Sat, June 15

Verde Heritage -- 1953: Verde Valley Fires

"Three fires in the valley in the past week leveled a dairy milk house, burned a section of the Hopewell mine tunnel and destroyed the home of a 95-year-old Camp Verde man."

"First of the fires, starting about 10:30 p.m. last Thursday, burned out Si Perkins, of Camp Verde. Neighbors came to the rescue, but Perkins' home and all of his belongings were lost."

"Mrs. Orval Courtney, who lives next door, discovered the blaze and led Perkins to safety."

CLARKDALE DAIRY: "The milk house at Clarkdale Dairy was listed as totally destroyed Monday after a fire started in a boiler room. Firemen blamed defective wiring."

"New Building Planned: Included in the loss were a new pasteurizer and a cream separator. Members of the Tavasci family said another milk house would be built immediately. The burned building belonged to Phelps Dodge Corp."

"Clarkdale Fire Department was first on the scene. The Cottonwood and Independent companies were asked for assistance when truck trouble developed."

"By that time, said Cottonwood Chief Balis Edens, 'It was too late. The building was gone.'"

"Hose Laid 1,100 Feet: By laying 1,100 feet of hose to Peck's Lake, the Cottonwood company was able to put out a fire that had spread to trees leading to the Tavasci home."

"A pall of black smoke, visible for miles, rose high above the dairy. Some portable equipment was moved to safety before the fire went out of control."

HOPEWELL TUNNEL: "Phelps Dodge Corp. figured in another fire, starting Saturday, when sparks from a welder's torch at the entrance to Hopewell tunnel ignited oil on the ground. The tunnel is the main entrance to the company's Jerome mine."

"Fire Oil Fed: Although P-D officials refused to discuss the incident, it was known that the fire traveled several hundred feet back into the mine, fed by oil along the shaft."

"With help from both the Jerome and Clarkdale Fire Departments, the fire was brought under control by Sunday, having burned timbers in the tunnel and blocked removal of machinery from inside the mine."

(The Verde Independent; Thursday, May 7, 1953; page 1, columns 4-5.)