Jan. 11 fire on Cochise Avenue still under investigation

Arizona Range News of Willcox, Arizona

A Willcox couple is expressing their gratitude to the Willcox Volunteer Fire Department for saving their home.

"Phyllis and I want to compliment you on the outstanding job you performed Saturday night saving our home," Tony Cohorn said in a letter read by Councilman Woody Johnson during call to the public at the Jan. 20 City Council meeting.

City firefighters battled a blaze in the Cohorn's backyard on Cochise Avenue late into the night on Jan. 11, and into the small hours the next day.

It took about four hours and 8,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire, which did not claim their home.

Tony Cohorn explained that since he and wife Phyllis "had been in the bed asleep since 10 p.m. that night," the story told in his letter comes from his neighbor across the alley.

"It was 11 p.m. when I let my three dogs out into the back yard to go to the bathroom and turn off our outside light. I was all ready for bed so it didn't take but a minute or two to get settled in bed," Johnson read.

"My wife came into the bedroom and asked why I hadn't taken the dogs out and turned off the light. I told her I had and she said, 'Well just look at the window shade.' I couldn't believe it when I pulled the window shade back. I saw flames higher than Tony's shop. I told Tina to call 911 - the back yard across the alley was on fire."

That was 11:06 p.m., and the first fire truck arrived on the scene at 11:16 p.m., Cohorn said in his letter, adding, "Since Phyllis or I never even looked at a clock, this is the only time frame we have."

"A teenage boy rang our doorbell and woke Phyllis up. I have to sleep with a CPAP (breathing machine) that makes an irregular sound so we have a strong air purifier beside the bed to mask the sound," he said.

"Our two dogs sleeping in our bedroom did not. hear the fire either."

"The roaring fire consumed the shop, garage, storage shed, two year's supply of firewood, all my carpenter, lapidary, and jewelry making tools, all our parents keepsakes and our sons and grand-kids' keepsakes," Johnson read.

"The flames came close enough to the house to burn the lattice work, bug light and fascia board on the patio. The outside pane of our double pane window was also broken," he said.

"Thank the Lord for your quick response time and expert skills or that wouldn't have been the only damage to our home."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Willcox Chief of Police Jake Weaver said Friday.

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