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home : latest news : local August 19, 2014


1/17/2014 11:59:00 AM
Fire destroys house, Williams woman dies in blaze
Virginia Docherty died at the scene, cause of fire still unknown
A fire burns at 106 E. Sherman Ave. in Williams Jan. 16. The fire started at around 6:44 p.m. and killed one of the home's occupants, Virginia Docherty. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
A fire burns at 106 E. Sherman Ave. in Williams Jan. 16. The fire started at around 6:44 p.m. and killed one of the home's occupants, Virginia Docherty. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
Williams firefighters clean up after a fire destroyed the residence at 106 E. Sherman Ave. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
Williams firefighters clean up after a fire destroyed the residence at 106 E. Sherman Ave. Marissa Freireich/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


A 74-year-old woman died when her house caught fire on East Sherman Avenue at about 6:44 p.m. Jan. 16. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Virginia Docherty died at the scene, 106 E. Sherman Ave. Docherty was a long-time employee of the Williams and Forest Service Visitor Center.

Docherty's son Tony Docherty escaped from the residence through the front door, according to Williams Police Department Lieutenant Darrell Hixson.

"He was just able to walk out and then try to get help and he couldn't get back in because it was too smoky," Hixson said.

The Williams Volunteer Fire Department extinguished the fire, but the house was severely damaged and will be unlivable.

"The fire was well advanced by the time we arrived," said Williams Fire Chief Chase Pearson. "It took us some time to fully extinguish the fire."

In addition to 19 firefighters, the Williams Police Department and Life Line Ambulance also responded to the call.

Pearson called Docherty's death a tragic loss. However, he said first responders prevented the fire from becoming worse.

"All of the fire personnel did an excellent job," Pearson said. "They worked really hard and did a great job of keeping it to the building of origin, keeping it to the one house."

The fire did cause some minor damage to the house next door, on the corner of First Street and Sherman Avenue.

"The damage is on the west side and it's some heat damage, windows blown out, and smoke damage," Hixson said.

Flagstaff Fire Department is conducting an ongoing arson investigation.

"The reason we called them in is because they have so many more resources for that," Pearson said. "They have their own investigation team."

Hixson added that an arson investigation is standard procedure for a fatality.

"It doesn't mean it's arson, it's just that's what they call the investigators," Hixson said.

No more information is available at this time.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: elizabeth bradshaw

I left Williams in July 2013. I will never forget Virginia's concern that I would be ok. I am devastated. I will never forget my neighbor for so many years.Tommy please be ok. She will be at peace now and you must find a place in your heart to let yourself heal. Take my condolences to Doc.. Betsy


Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: Jonel Wagoner

My condolences to the Docherty family. My cudos to the firefighters, including my brother, who risked their lives to try and save Virginia. Two volunteer firefighters sustained injuries when they fell up to eight feet from a window when the fire blew the windows out. I'm sending prayers to all and hoping that the firefighters will be honored for their valor by the city of Williams. I also hope that they will be provided any assistance they need in order to work through this traumatic incident. Helmets off to you all....your dedication and integrity to the citizens of Williams and others, FOR FREE, is an inspiration to me and to many. I know why you do it. You are all my heroes.



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