House burns 3 miles from station, chief: 'Not our problem'

The Ariz. fire chief said the blaze was out of their coverage area

ELOY, Ariz. — An Ariz. fire chief is defending his decision to not battle a blaze that was just three miles from his station.

Eloy Fire Chief Coy Amerson reasoned that the fire, in a rural area called Picacho, was not in their service area and did not need to respond, according to Tuscon News Now.

"It's like everything I had I don't have anymore," Edward Ortiz said.

His home was burned down, but he says it might have been saved if the Eloy Fire Department had responded, saying crews were only three miles away.

The news outlet requested access to the 911 dispatch tapes where the Eloy Fire Department says they will send out crews, only to call the dispatcher back to say they actually weren't going to respond to the blaze.

"That's going to be out of our area and no one's going to be able to respond," a member of the Eloy Fire Department said.

Chief Amerson said that because the residents of Picacho don't pay for fire service, they didn't need to respond.

"Not our problem. Sorry, but you're not in the district you're not our problem," Chief Amerson can be heard saying on the tapes.

He added that if someone had been trapped inside of a structure fire, they would have sent crews, but that was not the case with this blaze.

Another fire department 20 minutes away from the fire also did not respond to the blaze. It was Avra Valley Fire that responded, driving 30 miles to the scene.

Chief Amerson says he has approached residents in the past about paying for the fire service, about $50 to $250 per year, but some residents said they've never received an option to pay for the service.

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