Clark Mansion stood in ruins after an early morning fire destroyed the historic building Friday, June 25.
Arson is suspected, Clarkdale Fire District Fire Chief Joe Moore said.
The nearly 100-year-old residence, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was fully engulfed when crews arrived shortly before 5 a.m.
“It was an orange ball of flame, well involved, by the time we got here,” Moore said.
The building is considered a total loss. Moore said he would have to consult with historians to affix a value.
A downed power line electrified a chain-link fence surrounding the mansion and made firefighters wait roughly 20 minutes for Arizona Public Service technicians to disconnect power before water could be applied.
Firefighters established a perimeter outside the burning building’s “collapse zone” and poured water on the blaze from a distance of about 30 feet, Moore said.
“We did not go into the interior of the building because there was a high potential for collapse,” Moore said. “There was no way to get into the interior.”
Units from Cottonwood Fire Department and the Sedona, Camp Verde, Clarkdale and Verde Valley fire districts responded, Moore said.
In all, 21 firefighers and 12 units responded to the scene, he said.
“It was a priceless, historical piece of the Verde Valley,” Moore said. “It’s crushing to have lost it.”
Clarkdale Town Manager Gayle Mabery, who was at the scene shortly before 6:30 a.m., said Phelps Dodge Corp. currently owns the mansion, but was preparing to transfer the property to new owners who were expected to eventually open the former residence of "Copper King" William Clark to the public.
The mansion had been closed off for years, but reports of break-ins were frequent, as much as every other week, Mabery said.
Arson investigators were expected to arrive Friday morning to sift evidence, Moore said.
What appeared to be freshly-emptied beer cans were strewn about the entrance to the mansion Friday.
A small campfire near an outbuilding was cold, but suggested the site was possibly visited by trespassers in recent days.
Piles of black debris, including collapsed beams, cracked porcelain bathroom fixtures, and the stylized mantle of the parlor’s fireplace continued to burn and smolder at 7 a.m.
Moore said after the fire was beaten, firefighters stepped back and stopped applying water to allow the remains of the interior to burn out.
“If we put water on now, it will just burn longer,” he said.
Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig was able to see the fire from his home and snapped several photos of the burning building in the early morning darkness.
“This is a sad day for Clarkdale,” Von Gausig said.