Two deceased in house fire in retirement mobile home park east of Safford

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The GCSO investigated two deaths in an apparent house fire at the Safford Ranch Mobile Home Park on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

The fire was started by resident smoking while on oxygen

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Two elderly patients on home health care were discovered deceased Tuesday, Jan. 24, after apparently dying in a trailer fire that burned itself out without igniting the rest of the residence. A dog was also found deceased. 

Michael Rogers and Renee Dees were located deceased in a residence in the Safford Ranch Mobile Home Park located at 3201 E. Highway 70 – east of Safford. Authorities and EMS were dispatched to the residence at about 11:09 a.m. after a caretaker for the couple discovered the bodies. They were both transported to Tucson for autopsies by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner.  

According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, Rogers was found deceased on a bed in a bedroom and Dees was found on the floor of the front room. The area around a diner table in the front room was burnt and was covered in black soot with a stench of smoke, according to the report. 

It appeared that Dees was smoking while using an oxygen machine, which caught fire. The fire spread to the floor, table, and Dees, but did not spread further. 

“The home was so sealed up that it didn’t have enough air to burn in the home,” said Safford Fire Chief Clark Bingham. “The fire consumed all the oxygen and put itself out. So, it burned itself out and in the process, it sucked all the oxygen out of the home and killed the residents.” 

The caretaker informed a deputy that Dees was on oxygen for health issues and had a bad habit of dropping lit cigarettes due to muscle spasms. The caretaker said Rogers, who also had several health issues, drops his cigarettes as well, causing buns in the carpet around the table. 

A Lifeline paramedic who responded to the scene told a deputy that she had been there just two days prior on a medical call and noticed several burns on the carpet around the dining room table. The paramedic said she advised Dees about the dangers of smoking while using oxygen. 

“It was a tragic event,” Chief Bingham said.