On Friday August 23, 2019, at approximately 12:45 AM , the Prescott Regional Communications Center received multiple 911 calls reporting a cabin on fire in Camp Pinerock on Prescott’s southern border. 3 Engine Companies, a Truck Company, a Brush Truck, a Support vehicle, a Battalion Chief, Prescott PD, an ambulance, and other support personnel were dispatched. The caller reported that the 2 persons in the house were out and accounted for but were injured and needed ambulance transportation.
While enroute, the responding Battalion Chief, knowing this was a heavily wooded area with multiple cabins and homes in close proximity to each other, upgraded the assignment by adding 2 more Engine Companies, two Water Tenders, and three ambulances. Responding Engines were able to see flames coming from the building well before arriving on the scene. Upon arrival, they reported an approximately 1000 square foot home fully involved in fire. Flame heights were reported to be 150 feet high with trees burning, 4 houses in close proximity as well as a car, and a one quarter acre wildland fire.
Due to the structure being completely engulfed in flames, along with the knowledge that there were no people in the structure, a defensive firefighting strategy was employed using large amounts of water from the outside of the building. While attempting to extinguish the fire, firefighters were also protecting the 4 other homes and vehicle that were at risk from the heat of this large fire. The vehicle sustained significant damage as it was next to the home, but the other homes were saved with only minor damage to each of them.
The woman homeowner went to bed at 8 o’clock, followed by her husband at 9. The man was awakened by “popping” sounds and went to investigate. As he left the bedroom door, the smoke alarms in the house went off and he reported seeing flames and encountered heavy smoke and intense heat. He yelled to his wife to follow him and exited the structure through heavy smoke and intense heat. When he got outside, he noticed that his wife was not with him. He attempted to return to the structure but was driven back by the heat and flames. He then ran to the rear of the house where the master bedroom was located in an attempt to find his wife. The woman, while trying to exit, encountered conditions that would not allow her to exit through the same door that her husband did. While attempting to exit through another room, the flames broke through an interior glass door and forced her farther back into the structure. She made her way to a spare bedroom where she opened the window and found her husband on the outside to assist her out of the window.
Neighbors came running to the fire, and upon finding the couple and seeing that they were injured, loaded them into a private vehicle and took them to the camp entrance so they would not be blocked in on the narrow roads by the responding emergency units.
Prescott Police officers arrived on the scene and found the injured couple and relayed that information to Fire dispatch. The patients were rapidly loaded into two ambulances and transported to Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott. Both patients were then transported to a Trauma Center in Phoenix for further care.
It is believed that the fire underwent a “flashover”, when all the contents of a structure and the smoke get to a temperature that has them all ignite, filling the entire structure with flames, as the woman was exiting through the window. Both patients are lucky to be alive considering the fire conditions when they were attempting to get out of the home.
The fire was knocked down in about an hour with no injuries to firefighters.
The building and contents were a total loss. Preliminary loss estimate is $250,000.
The investigation of the cause of the fire is on-going.