Elderly man dies after accidentally starting brush fire in southeastern Arizona

Apr 24, 2024, 6:47 AM | Updated: 9:24 am

PHOENIX — An elderly man died on Tuesday from burn injuries he sustained after he and his son accidentally started a brush fire in southeastern Arizona, authorities said.

Neil Hesse, 81, and his 52-year-old son were trying to put out what evolved into the Bowers Fire in the Whetstone area on Monday when they both sustained serious burn and smoke injuries, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office said.

They were taken to Tucson hospitals, where Hesse died on Tuesday morning.

Whetstone is about 65 miles southeast of Tucson.

Here’s everything we know about the Bowers Fire in southeastern Arizona

The structure-turned-brush fire started around 6:15 p.m. Monday when Hesse and his son were at their residence working with a grinder, which investigators believe initiated the blaze.

As multiple public safety personnel responded to the scene, deputies heard explosions coming from the area that were later identified as propane tanks.

“Our firefighters were on scene until three in the morning, working to help stop the burn from taking out any other structures or spreading further into the area,” the City of Tombstone Fire Department said.

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management said Friday night that crews stopped forward progress off the Bowers Fire at 28 acres and are working toward full suppression.

Evacuation orders were issued for some residents, but they have since been lifted.

An investigation into the blaze is ongoing.

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Elderly man dies after accidentally starting brush fire in southeastern Arizona