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fire

A fire destroys a house in Alterra. Photo by Michelle Chance

A house caught on fire in the 44900 block of West Buckhorn Trail in Alterra Monday afternoon. There are no reports of injuries.

Workers were load testing a new air conditioning unit being installed at the house when the fire broke out, according to Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

The fire spread to the roof, where flames were visible. Up to four people were evacuated from the house. Firefighters with Maricopa Fire/Medical Department responded to the scene around 3:45 p.m. Units were also dispatched from Chandler, Sun Lakes and Casa Grande.

With increased winds, firefighters went into defensive mode to protect surrounding homes as the roof fell in.

Photo by Michelle Chance

After a busy week battling structure fires, the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department will hold a presentation on the site of the recent residential fire in Senita.

IF YOU GO
What: After the Fire presentation
Who: Maricopa Fire/Medical Department
When: June 18 at 7 p.m.
Where: 43267 W. Maricopa Ave.

The “After the Fire” program will take place June 18 at 43267 W. Maricopa Ave at 7 p.m. The event is open to the public.

“This program is an opportunity for the fire department to emphasize fire prevention, home and life safety and fire department operations in conjunction with the recent structure fire in the Senita subdivision,” MFMD Assistant Fire Chief John Storm wrote in a press release Tuesday.

Fire crews responded to reports of the garage fire June 6. Residents and a few pets made it out safely.

Storm said the residents are staying with family nearby as fire investigators examine what sparked the blaze inside the garage.

“Fire Department administrators and crews will be on hand to answer all questions and provide valuable insight into fire prevention and what Maricopa residents can do for themselves to reduce and eliminate the chances a fire may occur at their residence or business,” according to the release.

MFMD has responded to three structure fires in Maricopa neighborhoods since June 6.

Photo by Michelle Chance

 

A home in Tortosa caught fire Tuesday afternoon and threatened neighboring houses.

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department responded to Cartegna Lane after neighbors reported smoke. One neighbor tested the door handle of the building and discovered it was hot.

The homeowner was not home at the time. Three dogs were in the back yard, apparently having escaped through a dog door. No injuries have been reported.

Deidra Campbell, a neighbor, said she saw the smoke on her way home and was one of the first to report the fire. At first, she thought it was blowing dust and later a small brush fire.

“When we got closer to the entry to Tortosa, we could tell it was different,” she said. “We waited in the median and called from there.”

MFMD hit two houses with water in the 35000 block of West Cartegna.

Fire Chief Brady Leffler said by the time firefighters arrived, the fire had burned through the stairwell, cutting off access to the second floor.

“They backed out; they went defensive, which is to protect exposures and things like that,” Leffler said. “They’ve got it under control now.”

He said the fire was contained to one house.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Daniel Rauch said officers were able to contact the homeowner, and he was on his way to the scene.

It is the third house fire reported since June 6.

Photo by Michelle Chance

Firefighters are battling a blaze at a home in Senita. According to Maricopa Fire/Medical Department, three people and two dogs safely made it out of the house on Maricopa Avenue.

The fire, which caused billowing smoke over the neighborhood, apparently started in the garage. The cause and ignition point are not yet known. A car parked in the driveway was partially burned. The call came in at 3:06 p.m.

A cat was rescued from the house.

Photo by Mason Callejas

A garage fire threatened a home at 46058 W. Morning View Lane.

According to Deputy Fire Marshal Eddie Rodriguez, two people were in the house and made it out safely. There is still a search for four animals.

The fire call came in at 10:09 a.m. It was initially reported as a vehicle fire. A dozen fire and medical units responded to the scene. Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said 11 MPD units responded.

MFMD Assistant Chief John Storm said the American Red Cross and a local church are provided aid to the residents.

 

Assistant Fire Chief John Storm gives an "After the Fire" presentation in Senita. Photo by Michelle Chance

A week after a Senita house fire displaced a family on New Year’s Eve, members from the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department held a public meeting to discuss the fire investigation.

Assistant Fire Chief John Storm, standing in front of the garage where the fire is said to have originally sparked, spoke to a small crowd Jan. 11.

The first rig on-scene arrived 4 minutes and 39 seconds after being dispatched, Storm said. MF/MD was later aided with additional assistance from Sun Lakes, Goodyear and Chandler Fire departments.

The blaze was controlled after 39 minutes.

“There is still no determination on the cause,” Storm said.

Deputy Fire Marshall Eddie Rodriguez said the majority of investigations reveal the sources of house fires are accidental.

Rodriguez is working with the homeowner’s insurance company during the investigation.

“The reason we do these investigations is not to place blame on anyone; we do these investigations to find what started this fire,” Rodriguez said.

MFMD spokesman Brad Pitassi said the most common cause of most garage fires is electrical.

To reduce your risk of garage fire, Pitassi recommends:

  1. If you use the garage as workspace, practice good workspace habits. For example, do not over burden electric outlets with multiple extension cords or power strips. Hire a qualified electrician to install additional outlets.
  2. Don’t store excessive amounts of flammables in the garage, like oil. Buy and store what you will use.
  3. Store flammable paints, solvents and gasoline in a back yard shed away from the home.
  4. Use a heat detector in the garage and fire detectors and alarms throughout the home.

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As Maricopa firefighters check Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church for fire, MPD prepares a drone to fly over the building to look for smoke or flames. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Police Department used one of its newest bits of technology to assist the fire department in investigating a small fire at a church Tuesday.

First responders received reports of a small fire at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church around 9 a.m. Tuesday and were on scene within minutes.

MFMD on scene to contain the fire at the church. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Fire/Medical fire investigator Jason Nelson said firefighters were able to keep the blaze contained to a small closet. MPD spokesperson Ricardo Alvarado said the department deployed their drone in an attempt to help locate possible hotspots or areas where fire may be hidden from sight.

The drone, equipped with a state of the art forward-looking infrared camera (FLIR) system, flew over the building for more than half an hour using both its FLIR camera and full-spectrum camera to look for any latent fire.

Alvarado said the drone did not detect any areas of possible concern, indicating the fire was likely contained. The church’s sprinkler system was effective in stopping the spread of any flames.

Church secretary Patti Coutre said via social media, there was “no major damage, however church will remain closed until the insurance releases it and it is cleaned up.”

A woman did receive minor burns to her hands as a result of the fire, Nelson said. However, since the injuries weren’t considered serious, she chose to seek medical attention on her own.

Nelson said the exact cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

 



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Submitted photo

A garage at a Senita home caught fire this morning on Magnolia Road.

The “Vasquez Family Donation Fund” has been set up at Wells Fargo for the family, which lost everything due to fire and smoke damage. The children also need clothes and shoes.

Brian Vasquez, his wife and three children left the house safely. They noticed the fire after hearing a “pop” in the garage some time after 9 a.m. They had reportedly just turned on the heater.

The father opened the door to the garage and saw fire, then quickly closed the door. The smoke that entered the home at that time set off the smoke alarms.

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department responded to the scene at 9:30 a.m.

“The fire extended to the garage and the attic,” MFMD spokesman Brad Pitassi said. “There was extensive smoke damage, all the way through from floor to ceiling.”

The Vasquez family, which includes children age 1, 2, and 4,  has lived in the home for three years. It was built in 2007. They have family nearby if the home turns out to be immediately uninhabitable. American Red Cross was also on scene to help situate the family.

Pitassi said two investigators were looking into the cause of the fire, which also destroyed a vehicle in the garage. He said the fact the house had solar panels gave fire crews a different challenge in the basic tactic of cutting a hole in the roof, but they were able to contain the fire.

Photo by Ernie Marrufo

Fire investigators are looking into what caused a mysterious house fire in Rancho El Dorado earlier this week.

Sunday, the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department responded to a fire at a home near the intersection of Cahill and Kirkland Drives at approximately 7 p.m.

“As crews arrived on scene, they found smoke coming from the structure and found fire in the rear of the home contained to a room off the patio inside the building, with damage to (the) patio outside as well,” said Brad Pitassi, MFMD spokesman.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and no injuries were reported. Neighbors said they believed the house was vacant at the time.

The origin of the fire is under investigation, Pitassi added.



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The Shaw children (from left) LeAnne, Dylan, Hailey and Ethen

Friends of the Masterson family, who lost four children in a fire this week, have started a fund-drive at GoFundMe.com to help pay for the expense of returning the remains to Arizona.

Ethen Alexander Shaw, born April 28, 2000, LeAnne Elizabeth Shaw, born Jan. 22, 2002, Hailey Faith Shaw, born Feb. 3, 2005, and Dylan Joseph Shaw, born Feb. 26, 2006, died along with their father Timothy Shaw and stepmother Melissa Shaw on Nov. 21 at their home in Ogle County, Illinois.

The children’s mother and stepfather, Veronica and Corey Masterson, live in Maricopa with their three children, Riley, 7, Addison, 6, and Michael, 1.

Ethen, LeAnne, Hailey and Dylan are preceded by their brother Aaron William Masterson, who passed away in 2013 of sudden infant death syndrome at the age of 4 months.

Along with their mother, stepfather and siblings, they are survived by maternal grandparents in Maricopa, paternal grandparents in Illinois, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends.

RIP my sweet babies.
Death has parted us, my loves,
Something no mortal could do.
And we are left behind now,
Feeling oh so lost and blue.
No more will I rise each morning,
To see your dear, sweet faces,
To hear you say good morning Momma,
And hold me in your embraces.
We’ve kissed our final good night,
And we’ve said our last goodbyes.
And now there’s nothing for me to do
But remember you, my loves, and cry.


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A Maricopa mother was informed this morning her four oldest children perished in a house fire in Illinois overnight.

“The Maricopa fire chaplain and a few cops came to my door,” said Veronica Masterson. “How can this happen in one family?”

Veronica and her husband Corey Masterson previously lost a 4-month-old son, Aaron, to sudden infant death syndrome in 2013.

Veronica Masterson said the oldest children, age 11-17, were staying with their father Timothy Shaw, 39, near Dixon, Illinois. Their father and his wife Melissa, 37, also died, according to fire reports.

The fire broke out just after midnight Tuesday morning. The state fire marshal and state police are investigating but the fire is not being treated as suspicious.

The children, Ethen Alexander Shaw, 17, LeAnne Elizabeth Shaw, 15, Hailey Faith Shaw, 12, and Dylan Joseph Shaw, 11, had attended school at Legacy and Sequoia Pathway in Maricopa before they moved to Illinois to spend time with their father.

“He was in the military, so he was gone most of the time,” Veronica Masterson said. “Then he left the military, and they had a chance to get to know him. Even though he wasn’t around much, Daddy’s still a hero.”

She last spoke to the kids two days ago. Veronica has the kids every Christmas, and they talked about how long they would stay and how they could accommodate their father’s family in the holiday. Shaw’s parents live around the corner from his house.

Ethen Shaw is reported to have called 911 the night of the fire, saying he was trapped in the basement by smoke.

“When first responders arrived on scene, the two story residential structure was fully engulfed,” Ogle County Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release. “Once the fire was extinguished six victims were located in the residence, one on the second floor, four on the first floor and one in the basement.”

Catrina Jensen has been best friends with Veronica Masterson since before LeAnne was born. They lived across the street from each other for years in San Diego.

“Their babies were my babies,” she said, likening the Shaws to Cabbage Patch Kids. “They were gorgeous babies. Just gorgeous, with big, huge round eyes and chubby, little fat faces.”

She said Ethen, a senior in high school, recently landed his first job. “He’s going to be so terribly missed.” LeAnne was “a whole bunch on the shy side, but when she warmed up to you, she loved you with her whole heart.”

She called Hailey the Enforcer and Dylan the Negotiator. “Hailey was a firecracker. Dylan was her little peacemaker. He loved everyone. He was a delight.”

Jensen, who later discovered her husband and Veronica are second cousins, has always felt part of the family. With events that have rocked the Mastersons the past four years, she has become a Veronica’s rock.

The Mastersons have three children at home, age 7, 6 and 1. Two were at school when Veronica learned about the tragedy. She anguished through the day wondering how she would tell them about their brothers and sisters.

At the same time, she struggled to find answers for herself. “I got my baby, I got my other kids,” she said. “It’s not my whole heart, but it’s such a huge part of it.

“My husband was a great strength when Aaron died. I didn’t know if I’d come back from his death. I kind of went down a dark rabbit hole. But he brought me back. We have each other.”

After Aaron’s death, Jensen moved her family to Maricopa to watch over Veronica and help pull her back from the dark side. “She locked everybody out, and I told her, ‘I’m here, I’m staying, you’re going to look at me and talk to me, and we’re going to get through this. This time, I don’t know.”

“Her support is something you only dream about having in your life,” Masterson said.

Now dealing with the unthinkable, Masterson’s focus is on bringing her children back to Arizona. Jensen has set up a fund to help the family.

“I need to get my babies home,” Masterson said. “I need them home.”


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Photo by Michelle Chance

The owner of a home that caught fire last week is asking for help from the community.

Grace Agnes said volunteers willing to clean debris are asked to meet at her home located at 44000 W. Griffis Drive Saturday at 11 a.m.

The bulk of the work includes carrying debris to a large dumpster outside and removing damaged walls. Agnes asked that volunteers bring shovels and gloves, and wear clothing they don’t mind throwing away.

“Come (dressed) prepared for disaster clean-up because you don’t want to take any of that debris home,” Agnes said.

On Sept. 26, fire crews put out a blaze in the second story of the house, eventually preventing the fire from spreading farther into the attic.

As the news broke, fire officials reported a mother and two children evacuated the home without injury. Agnes clarified the woman was not the mother, but Agnes’ niece who was providing childcare for three children when the home caught fire.

“Everybody is safe, everybody is good,” Agnes said.

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department Spokesman Brad Pitassi said firefighters saved a 5-year-old German shepherd who was still in the home during the fire.

“Professor is even doing good,” Agnes said. “The (firefighters) did such a good job with him.”

Agnes said the home was not insured for fire damage at the time of the incident. A GoFundMe donation page has been set up to help fund the rebuild effort.

It is unknown when the damage to the home will be fully restored, but Agnes estimated it could be three to six months.

The dumpster Agnes rented will be on the property for 30 days, but she said donations from the GoFundMe page could help her afford to keep it there longer.

Agnes runs Agnes’ Center for Domestic Solutions. The home in Maricopa provides services to families involved in domestic violence situations.

“Our agency helps victims overcome domestic violence and we are public knowledge,” Agnes said.

House Fire on corner of Alma & Griffis in Maricopa | September 26, 2017 | InMaricopa | Photographer Jonathan Williams

A mother and her two children safely evacuated their home in The Villages after it caught fire Tuesday afternoon, according to Maricopa Fire/Medical Department.

Brad Pitassi, MFMD spokesman, said crews received a call reporting the fire on Griffis and Alma drives around 3 p.m.

Officials are still investigating what caused the fire, but crews first on-scene said the blaze began in a second-story bedroom.

“Crews turned the corner and there was fire blowing out of the bedroom window,” Pitassi said. “They went inside, cleared the house, and there weren’t any residents inside of the house.”

Pitassi said the family’ two dogs made it out safely as well. Responding officers reported hearing fire alarms ringing as they entered the home, he said.

As crews worked to contain the fire upstairs, they discovered it had spread to the attic, Pitassi said.

“It was a very aggressive fire attack for that first crew that came in and they were able to stop that from extending deeper into the attic, so a really outstanding job there,” Pitassi said.

The “full response” fire received attention from every MFMD crew and automatic aid from two other fire departments in the Valley.

“As this fire was confirmed, then our dispatch center starts adding enough resources to it to be able to handle that problem. So Chandler (FD) did come down, we did have Sun Lakes (FD) that was en route,” Pitassi said.

The Maricopa Police Department closed Alma Drive at Edison Road for over an hour as first responders worked the scene.

MFMD photo

Maricopa Police and Maricopa Fire/Medical departments are investigating a suspected case of arson after a car caught fire in The Lakes around midnight Tuesday morning.

The vehicle was parked in the driveway in front of the garage at the home on West Park Hill Drive. Witnesses said the car was doused in accelerant and set on fire by unknown subjects.

The homeowner tried to extinguish the flames and was burned on his arms and legs. He was transported to a hospital for treatment. Other members of the family and pets were treated before being allowed to return to the house, which had residual smoke.

Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa Fire/Medical Department extinguished a mobile home fire in the Heritage District Monday morning.

MFMD responded en force to a call concerning “light smoke and a little bit of fire” coming from the attic of the residence on Condrey Avenue at about 10:30 a.m.

Battalion Chief Ken Pantoja said four trucks rapidly arrived on the scene and firefighters were quick to extinguish the blaze. Despite the damage to the home, he said, no one was hurt, which is the best they can hope for in a structure-fire situation.

“The guys [firefighters] did a good job, got [the fire] put out pretty quick, in the first couple minutes,” Pantajo said. “No injuries, it was a good outcome.”

Though there were no injuries, Pantoja said the family will likely be temporarily relocated due to the damage.

“Now we’re doing a salvage overall, and working on occupant services, getting the people somewhere to stay because the house is not livable at this time,” Pantoja said.

The official cause is unknown, Pantoja added, though considering its location in the attic area, the likely the culprit is electrical wiring.

Photo by Penelope Cooper

The trailer of a semi-truck rig caught fire just south of Riggs Road on State Route 347 Thursday morning.

Though the rig itself did not initially block southbound traffic, law enforcement re-routed cars to eastbound Riggs Road in order for Gila River Fire Department and Sun Lakes Fire Department to respond to the scene and extinguish the blaze.

The contents of the trailer were destroyed.

Photo by Penelope Cooper

City of Maricopa Fire crews suppressed a fire at the First Baptist Church on Aug. 20. It was determined to be accidental. Photo by Brittany Paige Anslow

A fire last month at First Baptist Church has been determined to be an accident caused by faulty wiring.

 

The report by investigator Chazz Dupree found the origin of the attic fire to be wiring between an air conditioning unit on the roof and an electrical junction box, likely causing the power source to overheat. A hole was burned in the front of the junction box.

 

The Aug. 20 fire was first spotted by an off-duty firefighter with Ak-Chin Fire Department who reported smoke coming from the attic at around 8:30 a.m. When the first unit arrived from Maricopa Fire Department’s Alterra station, only light smoke was visible from the west gable.

 

The building was empty and locked at the time, which was a Saturday morning. Firefighters breached glass doors on the west side and double doors in the courtyard to get inside.

 

A thermal imaging camera located the heat source – an electrical box on the attic ceiling.  There was heavy smoke in the west wing but no indication of fire in the rest of the building.

 

Damage caused by the fire was limited to the path of the wiring from the south wall of the attic toward the peak of the gable roof, approximately eight to 10 feet long and 12 to 16 inches wide, according to Dupree’s report.

 

There was also smoke damage in the attic, water damage in the attic and drywall damage to the west end of the building “where crews pulled drywall to access the fire area.”

 

First Baptist Church has been in Maricopa for 62 years. Since the fire and the damage in the sanctuary, the congregation has been meeting in a combined worship service on Sundays outside in a white tent.