Man loses dog in house fire

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: A house fire claimed the life of the occupant’s dog. No other injuries were reported.

No signs of arson; fire believed to possibly be mechanical failure

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – A man lost his home and his dog after a fire engulfed his single-wide trailer in the late evening hours of Jan. 19. 

First responders were dispatched to the fire scene near the intersection of Highway 366 (Swift Trail) and Cheyenne Drive at about 11:41 p.m. regarding a house on fire. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The home was listed as a total loss.

A Safford firefighter arrived at the residence in his own vehicle at about the same time as a Graham County Sheriff’s Office deputy. Together, they opened the door on the south side of the residence and called out to see if anyone was inside but didn’t get an answer. 

The deputy then went to a residence to the south of the fire and encountered a woman who said she was the sister of the man who lived in the residence that was ablaze. She feared her brother was still inside and said he had been imbibing spirits of late and could possibly have been asleep. 

The deputy and woman checked another place her brother frequented without success and shortly thereafter Safford Fire Chief Clark Bingham assured them that human remains were not located in the structure.  However, the remains of the man’s dog were located on a bed in the bedroom.

Chief Bingham told the Gila Herald that the official cause of the fire remains undetermined but he believed it to likely be a mechanical failure. He said the fire originated near the area where an electric heater was located. Bingham and the Sheriff’s Office reported that there were no signs of arson and that the fire is believed to be accidental.  

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The fire is believed to have originated in the eastern bedroom where a space heater was found.

Firefighters kept the blaze to just the single structure but the trailer was a total loss. No other injuries were reported. 

A Sheriff’s Office sergeant contacted C & C’s Hideaway Bar and Grill at the corner of U.S. Highway 191 and Highway 366 and was advised that the occupant of the damaged residence had just left the bar walking back toward his home. The occupant was later contacted at a residence near the Mt. Graham Market and was informed of his loss. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The scorched walls of the home illustrate the heat firefighters had to deal with to limit the fire to the single structure.

The man mostly spoke incoherently to the investigators and advised about conspiracy theories involving the government in the burning of his home. Investigators believed the man to be under the influence of some sort of substance and cut their interview short.  

The man was concerned for his dog, however, and inquired if the animal had suffered. He was told the dog likely died of carbon monoxide and simply fell asleep prior to being burned by the fire.  

The occupant also said he didn’t believe in having insurance on his home and the American Red Cross was called to assist him due to his loss.   

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