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.