Smoke detectors save 3 families from house fires in Ahwatukee, Glendale

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 6:39 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 8:13 AM

Map: 48th Street & Warner

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Map: 43rd Ave. & Northern

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AHWATUKEE and GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Smoke detectors saved three families from two separate house fires -- one in Ahwatukee and one in Glendale -- Monday morning.

Several units from at least two agencies responded to the fire in Ahwatukee, which started in one home and quickly spread to the attic of a neighboring house. Only a few feet separate the two homes

It happened at about 3 a.m. in a neighborhood just west of the Warner Elliot Loop, which is west of Interstate 10 near 48th Street and Warner Road.

A family of four and their guest were asleep at the time.

"They woke up to the smoke detectors going off," Capt. Tony Mure of the Phoenix Fire Department said. "That alerted them to it. When she, the mother, when out towards the back door, she saw that the attic was fully involved and part of the back porch area was involved and it spreading to the neighbor's [house]."

All five people escaped safely. They also were able to save three of their four pets. They are hoping their fourth pet -- a cat -- escaped and is hiding until things calm down.

The family ran next door to wake their neighbors -- a couple with a 7-month-old baby. They were able to get out unharmed, as well. The house where the fire started was destroyed.

The home next door was damaged, but can be repaired. Firefighters say the couple and their baby probably can return in a few days.

Fire investigators were on the scene to try to determine what sparked the fire. At this point, they believe it started in the back of the house.

The second fire happened about an hour earlier in Glendale, leaving an elderly couple homeless.

Smoke detectors came into play there, as well.

Firefighters were called out to a home in the area of 43rd and Northern avenues shortly before 2 a.m.

According to firefighters, the wife heard the smoke alarm and hustled her husband, who is in a wheelchair and uses oxygen, out to safety.

Crews say the presence of the husband's oxygen tanks could have presented a serious danger as the fire tore through the house because fires require oxygen to burn. The more oxygen present, the faster and more intensely flames will burn. Normal air is about 21 percent oxygen. Medical oxygen tanks contain 100 percent oxygen.

Firefighters kept the flames from spreading to neighboring homes.

No injuries were reported.

It's not known how that fire started.

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