Family forced to jump from 2nd story apt. during fire

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX - Trapped by flames, a Valley family of five was forced to jump from their second-story apartment.

Family recalls scary ordeal
azfamily.com

It happened early Wednesday morning at a complex in Phoenix near 19th Avenue and Bell. 3TV caught up with the family who is lucky to be alive.

Firefighters tell 3TV the fire started in a downstairs unit where too many holiday lights were plugged into one outlet. The fire then spread fast, forcing 26 people out of their homes. Five of them had to jump.

"My dad woke up and said 'Oh it's burning'," explains, 11-year-old Joan Villarreal.

The fire at the Carlton Club apartments spread quickly, trapping a family of five upstairs. Joan explains, "My dad said lets jump through here because there was fire here." The dad was the first one down where neighbors were already on hand to help.

Will Godinez, a neighbor, says, "No one could get out those doors so they were throwing people who lived upstairs throwing them down."

The family trying to escape the smoke and flames gathered on the balcony.

"I was scared for them because if they fall or something happens they could die so I was very scared," Joan admits. "First they threw my brothers and people catched them."

One of those people was neighbor Robin Garcia who tells 3TV, " The mom was very hesitantdropping the baby down not knowing if that person would catch it I could see it in her eyes she was scared."

But Garcia caught the six-month-old baby boy and brought him to safety.

Others stepped in to help the toddler and mom down. Then finally it was Joan's turn, the last of the family to escape. He says, "I didn't know what I was doing because I was scared." He just knew he had to help his family and he is thankful others felt the same way.

Garcia admits, "To me it's just common sense. Someone needs help, you help them."

Now the Red Cross is assisting all 26 people and the complex is helping to relocate those families into nearby vacant units.