Fire destroys vacant home in San Tan Valley


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on August 26, 2014 at 6:41 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 27 at 4:41 PM

Map: Near Schnepf and Ocotillo

View larger map

SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. -- Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a vacant home in San Tan Valley early Tuesday morning.

It happened in the area southwest of Schnepf and Ocotillo roads. Neighbors say the home had been vacant for months.

When the firefighters arrived on the scene, the fire had been burning for quite some time and had a significant head start.

"As they got onto scene, they had big flames showing from quite some distance," Deputy Chief Wyatt Oden with Rural Metro said.

The flames were so intense that crews had to go defensive, which means they fought the fire from outside. At one point, the roof buckled and caved in.

Although the home was fully engulfed, firefighters kept the fast-moving flames from spreading to nearby houses. Some of those homes sustained minor damage.

"I thought mine was gone -- for sure," neighbor Malinda Hodge told 3TV's Ryan O'Donnell. "For sure, I thought it was gone."

The home that caught fire reportedly had just been purchased. The new owners were there yesterday.

According to firefighters, it can be dangerous to turn on utilities to a house that has been vacant. If the utilities were off when the home was inspected prior to closing, a variety of problems might have gone undetected. The lack of electricity would have limited what the inspector could see and test.

While investigators have not determined what sparked the fire, crews believe it might have been an electrical issue.

Rural Metro returned to the home several hours later to dump some more water on the ruins as a precaution. They planned to check on the site throughout the day to watch for hot spots.

No injuries were reported.