On Thursday March 14, 2019, at approximately 3:30 AM , the Prescott Regional Communications Center received a 911 call reporting a garage on fire in a home in the Pinon Oaks subdivision in north Prescott. 3 Engine Companies, a Truck Company, a Battalion Chief, Prescott PD, an ambulance, and other support personnel were dispatched. The caller reported that the 3 persons in the house were all out and accounted for.
The first due Engine company was able to see flames coming from the building from a distance while responding. Upon arrival, they reported an approximately 2500 square foot home with heavy smoke and flames coming from the three car attached garage and roof of the home.
Due to the large amount of involvement, and the fact that the fire was already strongly established in the entire attic, along with the knowledge that there were no people in home, a defensive firefighting strategy was begun using large amounts of water from the outside of the building, including an aerial stream from a truck company.
The fire was knocked down in about an hour with no injuries to firefighters. The homeowner breathed in some smoke and had some singed hair while attempting to use a garden hose to keep the fire in check, but did not require any treatment.
About 5 minutes before the fire was reported to 911, the daughter was awakened when she heard crackling or popping and thought it was coming from the neighbors house. She looked out the window and saw flames in the garage. She awakened her parents and they all exited the building. There was no smoke in the living part of the house at that time to set off the smoke alarms even though the fire was well established before the daughter woke up to the noises.
Once the fire was knocked down, operations were put on hold for a short time because the cold temperatures caused the firefighting water to freeze on the steep concrete driveway, making working around the home hazardous. Fire personnel remained on the scene throughout the day to extinguish any hidden fires since the roof collapsed and covered burning material underneath it.
The investigation started in the garage as that was where all witnesses saw the fire first. The area of origin was narrowed down using investigative techniques. In that area, investigators found a melted trash can. Further interviews obtained information that oily rags, solvent, and mineral spirits had been placed in the trash can earlier in the day after the property owner had worked on one of his vehicles. While it is believed that spontaneous heating of the rags has a strong potential for being the cause of the fire, further investigation will take place in an attempt to confirm that opinion.
Whenever using solvents, mineral spirits, oily rags, linseed oil, and other like substances, the rags that have those chemicals on them should either be stored in a sealed steel container until laundered or spread out outside to dry to allow the chemicals to become inert before the rags are disposed of.
The loss from this fire is estimated to be approximately $500,000 since the house was severely damaged and could possibly be a total loss. A significant amount of personal property was saved and able to be removed from the home.