Fire destroys Payson home
StoryDiscussionJanice Peterson - Daily Herald

A Payson home was destroyed Monday and a family displaced after a fire began in the attic.

Payson fire chief Scott Spencer said fire crews were called at about 9:45 a.m. after a neighbor noticed smoke coming from the attic of a home near 350 W. 700 South. The neighbor knocked on the door to notify the residents, and Spencer said the daughter living in the home noticed falling embers at the same time.

Spencer said the fire had already spread through the attic.

"It had been burning for some time before we got called," he said.

The family living in the home included a woman, her son and daughter-in-law and her 1-year-old grandchild. The woman's husband is in the military and stationed in Japan, and has been contacted. The family was able to get out of the home safely.

Spencer said the fire seemed simple at first, and the main fire was knocked down in about 30 minutes. However, the home has had several renovations and has multiple void areas as a result, Spencer said.

A modern home built to code has fire barriers in the walls and ceilings, including beams that can slow the fire's movement. In this home, there were large voids in the attic and walls, in some cases stretching to separate floors, which allowed the fire to continue spreading through the home.

"We've been fighting a lot of extension fires," he said.

Spencer said firefighters were called in from Spanish Fork, Salem and Santaquin to help with the fire, but officials deemed the structure too dangerous to continue fighting by late afternoon. The fire continued to burn in the attic and second floor, and the decision was made to stop fighting the fire.

"We're going to knock the home in," Spencer said.

It is standard procedure to use a trackhoe to push a structure in when safety issues prevent fighting a fire any longer. However, Spencer said such a procedure is more common in commercial buildings.

Although the home is a total loss, Spencer said crews were able to take the family in at one point to remove property like couches, photos and other property. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials are certain the blaze began in the attic.

There are a variety of possible causes when a fire starts in an attic, including electrical issues and fireplace piping, Spencer said. Investigators do not know yet what happened in this case, but Spencer said the home did have a heating unit in the attic and fireplace piping near the attic space as well.

The American Red Cross provided clothing, food and supplies, including a crib, for the family, said emergency services director Brett Cross. The family is doing relatively well, and will be staying with relatives.