What was supposed to be a routine training session for Morenci Fire Department members soon turned into the real thing.
Quick action by department members Monday night prevented what could have become a tragedy at the CQC adult foster care home on Baker Street.
The incident resulted in the arrest of one CQC resident.
Several firefighters were training in back of the station when one of them spotted a fire in a bedroom at CQC, located across the street from the fire hall.
“All they could see was flames,” said fire chief Chad Schisler. “They immediately ran over and started the evacuation process.”
There were 12 residents in the home, along with one visitor and two employees. The residents appeared to be ambulatory, Schisler said, but many could only move very slowly and needed walkers to assist their movement.
The residents were moved to the fire hall and checked by personnel from area EMS stations. One was transported to Bixby Medical Center for observation and two were released to family members. Eight were transported by a Morenci Area Schools bus to the Stephenson Home in Adrian.
One resident of the home—a 43-year-old female—was arrested at the scene and lodged for a mental health observation.
Physical evidence and statements from the woman pointed to her role in intentionally starting the fire, said Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks.
Two Morenci firefighters were transported by ambulance after suffering smoke inhalation.
Schisler was proud of his squad’s quick response, saying, “Their action saved a lot of lives.”
The fire was confined to one room and the cause is being investigated.
Morenci’s EMS squad transported the resident and firefighters almost immediately, Schisler said, and EMTs from Fayette and Hudson assisted in screening the remaining residents before they were released to family or transported to Adrian.
Lyons also provided manpower and Hudson sent its RIT team.
The fire was discovered at 7:25 p.m. and firefighters remained on the scene for two hours.
Chief Weeks said he is working with the state fire marshal’s office and the state agency that licenses AFC homes to complete the investigation and inspection get the CQC home in operation again as soon as possible.