Northwest Fire District firefighters responded to 2002 W. Gardner Lane at 0100 after 9-1-1 calls were received reporting a mobile home on fire. Deputies from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department on patrol in the area arrived just before fire crews and attempted to make entry into the mobile home to check for the victim, but were driven back by the heavy smoke and fire.
Crews arrived within 5 minutes to find the single wide mobile home 50% involved. Neighbors reported to fire crews that a victim still may be inside. Crews went into a search and rescue mode, entering the house with Thermal Imaging Cameras to attempt to locate the victim. Conditions when the crews made entry into the building were extreme with black smoke creating a zero visibility environment and high heat from the flames. A second crew made entry to assist in the primary search as well as a secondary search to check for potential additional victims. The first crew was able to locate the victim near the back bedroom area. No other victims were found in the fire building.
19 firefighters were able to place the fire under control 25 minutes after crews first arrived. The mobile home was a complete loss. 2 neighboring units were evacuated during the initial operation, but no other injuries were reported.
Fire Cause Investigators from Northwest Fire District along with detectives from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department ( a standard procedure when any fatality occurs as a result of a fire) conducted an investigation of the scene and determined that the fire was accidental. The fire was caused by actions related to a cigarette. The victim was known to smoke, but it was unclear whether the cause was related to improper use (smoking in bed and falling asleep) or the improper discarding of a cigarette. The victim had a medical condition that left him partially paralyzed, and his limited mobility may have contributed to his inability to escape the fire.
A smoke detector was found at the scene, but it was heavily damaged by fire and investigators were unable to determine if it activated to alert the occupant.
Northwest Fire would like to remind everyone to have at least 1 working smoke detector in their homes at all times. Change batteries and check the detectors to ensure that they are in working order at least twice a year. Also, if you smoke, use caution late a t night as you may fall asleep with a lit cigarette and always properly discard cigarettes in approved containers.