Homeless camp catches fire under 8th Avenue Bridge, knocks out Internet service

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: A homeless camp’s fire got out of hand Saturday and burned down the camp underneath the 8th Avenue Bridge and took out the Internet service for customers of Sparklight Cable north of the bridge.

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

GRAHAM COUNTY – A campfire at a homeless camp underneath the north side of the 8th Avenue Bridge got out of hand Saturday night. 

As the fire burned down the camp, it also melted Sparklight Cable’s fiber optic line running underneath the bridge, knocking out the Internet for its customers north of the bridge and causing $10,000 in damage to replace. 

Deputies and firefighters were dispatched to the bridge at about 8:28 p.m. regarding the fire. The volunteer Safford Fire Department put out the blaze while a deputy located the occupant, identified as Jeanett Knight. 

Knight appeared to have some sort of mental illness as she spoke irrationally of how the fire could have started and said she believed someone was trying to kill her by starting her mattress on fire. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The fire caused $10,000 worth of damage to Sparklight Cable’s fiber optic line, which was replaced the following day.

Shortly thereafter, another occupant of the camp, identified as Arthur Aragon, arrived and advised that he and Knight often have a fire in the camp to keep warm at night. He said he had gone to a friend’s house to use his telephone and that he believed there was a campfire going when he left but didn’t recall for sure. He said the campfire must have gotten out of control and burned down their camp. 

After speaking with a representative from Sparklight Cable regarding its melted fiber optic line, the deputy requested his report be sent to the Graham County Attorney’s Office for review and possible charges of reckless burning and criminal damage – which would be a Class-4 felony due to the monetary amount of damage. 

On Tuesday, Aragon and Knight were still attempting to clean up the area, which was strewn with burned objects and apparent refuse. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The camp underneath the 8th Avenue Bridge was strewn with burned objects and refuse as of Tuesday afternoon.
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