2 house fires under investigation; 4 pets killed

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Javier Soto

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 6:51 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 8:15 AM

Map: Avondale & Southern, Tolleson

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Map: Alma School & Frye, Chandler

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TOLLESON and CHANDLER, Ariz. – Investigators are trying to determine what sparked two early morning fires in different parts of the Valley, one which claimed the lives of four family pets.

Rural/Metro Fire responded to a home near Avondale Boulevard and Southern Avenue shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The homeowner, a light sleeper, said he’s not sure what woke him, but he immediately saw the flames and was able to hustle his family -- his wife, daughter and granddaughter -- outside to safety.

The fire proved challenging for crews because the nearest hydrant was about 0.25 mile away from the burning house.

Firefighters immediately went defensive and escalated the call to a first alarm, summoning help from three other agencies, some of which brought water tenders to the scene.

The fire destroyed the home, but firefighters kept the flames from spreading. Aerial video from Chopper 3 showed the ruins of the gutted house on the large property.

Firefighters, still dousing hot spots four hours later, say the family was lucky to escape unharmed.

Homeowner Randy Huron said he heard a noise and when he went to the arcadia door he didn't realize at first what he was seeing.

"I looked out and I thought I saw something  orange," he said. "I thought it was a storm because of the storm last night that blew through. ... When I opened the door, the smoke hit me in the face. I woke everybody up and got them out."

While no injuries to humans were reported, four pets were not as lucky. The now-homeless family told 3TV’s Javier Soto that they are devastated by the loss of their two cats and two dogs, saying they considered animals part of their family.

"I tried to go back in one time to get some of the pets, but I just couldn't do it," Huron said.

Two pets did make it out alive – a dog and a large desert tortoise. None of the family's 13 horse was injured.

Firefighters say this fire should be a reminder to you to check your smoke detectors.

“Regardless of what happened here, it’s always a good time to check those smoke detectors,” Rural/Metro’s Collin Williams said. “It’s a good reminder to always have a working smoke detector.”

Three women in Chandler know that first hand.

A working smoke detector is what alerted them to a fire in their garage.

It happened near Alma School and Frye roads at about 2 a.m., about an hour before the Tolleson fire.

The fire destroyed the garage and the car inside. Firefighters said the flames were so intense that the garage door actually melted on to the car. A second car that was parked in the driveway was destroyed, as well.

Firefighters said the smoke alarm gave the women -- three generations of a family -- the time they needed to escape.

No injuries were reported.

Unlike the Tolleson fire, the bulk of the damage in this incident was confined to the garage.

At this point, it’s not known how either fire started.

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