The mother of the late Needles political activist David Buckley was killed Tuesday evening, April 2, in a structure fire that consumed her home located on Needles’ main boulevard 1.8 miles from the community’ s fire station.
The first report of a blaze at the single-story residence at 1202 West Broadway Street came in at 9:46 p.m., which was followed by further calls relaying that yelling could be heard from within the building.
A county fire crew from the Needles Fire Station #32, located at 1113 East Broadway Street, was the first on the scene, discovering the two-bedroom house that had been augmented with add-ons was fully ablaze. According to the department, the presence of 20 mile per hour winds rapidly propelled the flames throughout the structure. Firefighters attempting to gain entry to the home were unable to do so as a consequence of being pushed back by the fire engulfing the entirety of the structure.
Firefighting personnel from Arizona arrived, including crews with Fort Mojave Mesa Fire Department, Golden Shores Fire Department and Mohave Valley Fire Department, to assist in the response.
A woman identified only as one of the residents of the home who was inside when the fire broke out, made her way outside. Suffering from burns, she was transported to Colorado River Medical Center in Needles by a Baker Emergency Medical Service ambulance.
With a significant portion of the home engulfed and energized power lines down around two sides of the structure, the teams at the scene initiated a defensive attack to prevent the spread of the fire to potentially threatened nearby residences.
A series of explosions, later determined to be heat-induced ruptures of numerous gas cylinders located inside of the residence, were heard during the fire suppression operations.
Approximately 31 minutes after the arrival of the fire crew from Station #32, the major portion of the fire was quelled, and the spread of the conflagration beyond the structure was averted. Thereafter, when firefighters were able to enter the building, they found Jean Buckley inside, deceased.
Buckley’s son, David, was a figure active in politics and community activism in Needles over the last two decades. His efforts had earned him the resentment of a cross section of the city’s political leadership. He and his mother, who was wheel-chair bound, often attended city council meetings. The city at one point turned the firepower of its authority David Buckley’s way, utilizing agency-to-agency privilege to induce adult protective services to launch an investigation into whether Jean Buckley was being neglected or subjected to a dangerous living environment. Though that effort failed to achieve the effect desired by several city leaders, the city was able to get even with their nemesis in other ways. When the Buckleys sought to obtain a city business license to operate a home-style restaurant featuring slow-cooked and barbecue beef and pork from their premises, the city refused to grant their request.
In 2017, David Buckley began to lose the power of speech. In early 2018, he was diagnosed with having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. In April 2018 he succumbed to the disease.