Sedona AZ (November 5, 2016) – On Thursday, October 27, 2016, at approximately 8:30 pm, Fire Captain Matt Fleece called 9-1-1 to notify Fire Dispatch of a burn injury and fire at Station 5 in Oak Creek Canyon; he requested a fire response to the station. Fire Engineer Mike Pace was in the station when he heard an explosion outside the two-story fire station. Engineer Pace looked out the glass door and saw flames in the outside entryway. Engineer Pace quickly went downstairs to the lower entryway to search for Captain Fleece. He looked around the corner to find the Captain climbing down an embankment next to the Station. Captain Fleece called out to Engineer Pace to take the fire engine around to the upper level parking area and put out the fire. Engineer Pace did so and quickly returned to check-in with the Captain and found him suffering from burns. Engineer Pace immediately began treating Captain Fleece’s injuries with assistance from a retired SFD Fire Captain who happened to be driving by the station when the fire occurred. Captain Fleece was transported by helicopter to Maricopa County Burn Center for treatment.
Since then, Captain Fleece’s condition has continued to improve and he has been moved to an acute care unit at the Burn Center. His family has politely asked all to respect their privacy in this difficult time. We expect there to be a long recovery and rehabilitation before Captain Fleece returns to work. “Matt is a strong person – of family and faith. He has a positive attitude and is determined. I have no doubt we will be seeing Matt back at SFD and we are doing everything we can at SFD to help him and his family,” said Fire Chief Kris Kazian. “Any cards or well wishes may be sent to Sedona Fire District and we will get them to the family.”
The Sedona Fire District requested a Regional Fire Cause Investigation Team to examine the fire scene. The initial reports of the investigative team found the origin of the fire was the propane gas of the BBQ grill Captain Fleece was using at the time. The team is reviewing the care, maintenance, and propane storage practices of the grill at the fire station.
The Fire District has also initiated a Serious Injury Review to document the incident and provide a report to offer insights into the initial cause of the fire and provide guidance for preventing a reoccurrence.
Fire damage was limited to the exterior entryway of the station where the BBQ grill was stored and used. Fire sprinklers in the station limited the fire damage to the entryway and provided protection to the interior of the fire station.
The Fire Station is back in operation to provide emergency services to the Oak Creek Canyon area. Contractors will begin repairs to the exterior, electrical, and water damage in the next week.