A 72-year-old man was displaced after a fire Tuesday evening burned a wall of his north side home along with his popular Halloween decorations and other art and art supplies in his yard.
Gary Morrow, known to some locals as “The Wall Guy,” had already started working on this year’s Halloween display, which draws hundreds of visitors each year, he said. This year’s theme was witches, which he planned to hang from a large tree on the south end of his yard.
Instead, the witches burned in the fire Tuesday just before 6 p.m. The only thing left of his decorations is the witch’s tree, he said. He was planning to build a haunted house for the witches too, but some of the material for that project also perished in the fire.
Morrow said it looks as though his annual Halloween display will have to be cancelled this year.
“Now I got to build the real house instead of the fake house,” Morrow said Tuesday night as he waited for the Red Cross to show up to help him find a place to stay for the night.
Morrow got a call from his neighbor around 5:35 p.m. alerting him that his yard was on fire. When he walked outside, he was able to leave his property through the front gate as he watched a tree go up in flames, he said. The Tucson Fire Department responded to the fire at the corner of North Park Avenue and East Gifford Drive, near First Avenue and Prince Road, around 5:40 p.m. and had the fire under control by 6 p.m., the department said in a news release.
Sculptures and Morrow’s 60-foot train sat next to his home coated in charcoal black, gray and white, only visible with a flashlight Tuesday night.
“It’s not hitting me yet until tomorrow when I see everything,” he said. “They tore up inside the house, they came in there and poked up the ceiling.”
The heat from the flames damaged the southern wall and windows, the fire department said. Fans were placed inside the home to reduce the smoke damage and the water and electricity were shut down, displacing Morrow for the time being.
Neighbors stopped by to ask Morrow what happened and to make sure he was OK. A dinosaur sculpture northwest of his front door remained undamaged, as did most of his are on the north half of his yard.
Morrow dusted off tiles with an image of the Virgin Mary on his wall next to his front gate, directing the code enforcement employee to stick a neon green sign indicating no one could be in the home on the image.
Nine units, consisting of 25 firefighters, were dispatched to the scene. Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire, the department said.
Morrow said the fire won’t stop him from continuing his work as an artist.
“I need some help trying to replace my artwork,” Morrow said. “If anybody is interested in helping me do something for my art it would be appreciated.”
While he’s unsure if he’ll be able to decorate for Halloween this year, he plans to continue the tradition in the future. He will also accept donations of witches to hang in his tree, he said, in case he’s able to revive this year’s display in time for Halloween.
“It puts a lot of smiles on people’s faces,” Morrow said.