Final report from house fire presented 6.11

Written by David Green.

Just like family members said, there was a hero at work during the devastating house fire May 24 in Morenci.

A police investigation of the incident showed that Matthew Delaney made an admirable effort to save family members and guests.

“Matthew Delaney truly is a hero in this case,” Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks said. “He was awakened by screams and ran upstairs to rescue Robert, Chris and Matt Wilson.”

He helped those three escape the burning house by climbing out a window onto the porch roof and jumping to safety.

“Had it not been for him,” Weeks said, “we would have likely had more casualties.”

Delaney also tried to go back inside to save Johnathan Pike and Chelsey Sedlacek, Weeks said, but by then smoke and flames prevented him from entering the house.

The county medical examiner ruled that smoke inhalation was the primary cause of death for Pike and Sedlacek.

The two victims were in a room located above the living room where the fire is thought to have originated. Smoke and heat likely traveled up through vents and into that room, Weeks said.

The state fire marshal listed the cause of the fire as undetermined. The marshal didn’t rule out the presence of a candle as the cause, but he couldn’t make clear determination.

“We just don’t know,” Weeks said.

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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