PHOENIX – Oxygen tanks apparently exploded during a house fire near 47th Avenue and Union Hills Drive in Phoenix Monday morning.
A woman believed to be in her late 60s and on an oxygen tank lives at the house. She was found standing outside of her burning home when firefighters arrived. At some point, firefighters say she went back in the house to save her cats but ended up needing to be pulled to safety after she burned her face and cut parts of her body.
A firefighter got her away from the home just before a couple of oxygen tanks exploded.
"It had some percussion that it shook the entire house," said Will Fry, who was shaken right out of bed because of the noise.
"I ran outside with my firearm thinking someone was trying to kick in my door and my neighbor told me, 'Behind you, get your girl out of the house,' and we pretty much came outside to see the firefighters on the roof chain-sawing a hole on top and the whole house was in flames," Fry said.
The explosions Fry heard were from the woman's oxygen tanks that kept fueling the fire every time they popped.
"There was definitely heavy fire," said Jim Arbagey, Phoenix Fire Department battalion chief. "She wouldn't have made it if she had gone back inside the house."
"They got it out really fast," Fry said. "The guys were pretty crazy up on the roof with the chainsaw."
The house is a complete loss.
The woman was transported to a hospital but is going to be OK.
One cat was found dead. The woman's other cats have not been located.
The house and garage were full of belongings. Arbagey called it "borderline hoarding."
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
It ended up being a wild first morning for Fry, who just spent his first night in his remodeled home last night. He thinks tonight will be a better night's sleep.
"Yeah, probably now that we know no more explosions are going to happen," he said.