Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

At leat 30 dogs die in Mesa trailer fire

At least 30 dogs died in an East Mesa mobile home fire that authorities have labeled “suspicious,” because the tenant had been evicted the day before, authorities said.

The animals, apparently belonged to a woman who had hoarded as many as 50 dogs, ranging from Chihuahuas to Labs, with the intent of rescuing them, neighbors said.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s spokesman Doug Matteson said investigators have been called to the location a number of times in response to zoning violations over the past few years.

The owner of the property, identified as Beth Schmeltz, had apparently lived there with her husband, who was not identified, and had collected a variety of junk in addition to the animals.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control was working with animal rescue groups to help the remaining dogs.

The East Mesa area where the fire occurred is in a county island and is not covered by Mesa police or fire.

Rural/Metro Fire Capt. Dan Caudle said the fire was being investigated as an arson because the Schmeltzes had received an eviction notice the day before the fire started.

“Obviously that raises red flags with the investigators,” he said.

Caudle said Scmeltz and her husband had been evicted by the landlord two years ago but had never left.

He said that because the house was so cluttered, investigators had not been able to determine an obvious point of origin of the fire.

Caudle added that he was initially told that 12 dogs had died the morning of the fire but did not have updated information.

The clutter both inside and outside the singlewide trailer helped fuel the blaze, Caudle said.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

Search site | Terms of service