Stove that was left on sparks 2-alarm fire at Phoenix apartment complex

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by Catherine Holland and Tess Rafols

Bio | Email | Follow: @Tess3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on June 3, 2011 at 7:13 AM

Updated Friday, Jun 3 at 10:29 AM

Map: Sierra Ranch apartments

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PHOENIX – A stove that was left on sparked a massive fire at a North Phoenix apartment complex overnight.

Crews were called out to the Sierra Ranch apartments at Tatum Boulevard and Bell Road shortly after 3:30 a.m. Friday.

The blaze spread quickly from their origin and by the time firefighters arrived on the scene, at least two units on the third floor were fully engulfed in flames. Those flames could be seen shooting from the roof.

Because of the size of the apartment complex and the number of people living there, the fire was designated as a second-alarm, which means additional crews were called to the scene.

Nearly 100 firefighters from Phoenix, Scottsdale and Glendale were on hand to battle the flames.

Sierra Ranch is made up of some 20 closely spaced buildings containing more than 500 units. Crews managed to contain the fast-moving flames to just one of them. That one building housed 24 units, all of which were evacuated as a precaution.

Officers and firefighters knocked on doors, while several residents helped their neighbors get out.

Some people were able to grab valuables like pets and computers. Others escaped with only the clothes on their backs.

“I was just falling asleep,” said one resident. “I could see it through my eyelids. My room was lit up just like day.”

Most residents were asleep, like Walter Eaddy.

"I was sound asleep when I heard banging," he explained. "I thought it was a fight or something. I looked out the door and they were like, 'Fire, fire, get out!' and it was the Phoenix Police Department."

Firefighters said the people who live in the community is always top of mind when they respond to an incident like this. They do everything they can to get everyone out safely. In this case, nobody had to be rescued.

Fire officials said the blaze started when a woman accidentally left her stove on and then went to bed. She woke up to find her kitchen on fire. The woman and her adult son were able to get out before the flames quickly spread to the units on both sides.

According to firefighters, fires that start on the stove are not at all uncommon.

“We run on these calls probably every day of the week,” said Capt. Scott Walker of the Phoenix Police Department. “’Food on the stove’ is what this call is called. People forget about it, the stove. The pot, or whatever you’re cooking in, melts. It can cause a fire.”

Crews were able to get the fire under control relatively quickly. In the end, eight to 12 units were affected. Red Cross volunteers were helping those residents who have been displaced.

While the damage to the building – both from the fire and the water used to put it out – was extensive, no injuries were reported.

Tatum Boulevard between Union Hills and Bell Road was closed while emergency crews were on the scene. Those lanes opened just in time for Friday morning's rush hour.

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