Fire at Tempe condo complex injures 2, displaces 23

Posted: Updated:
Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland
Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland
Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland
Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland
Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a pair of condos Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit. By Catherine Holland

TEMPE -- Nearly two dozen people don't have places to live after an early morning fire ripped through a condo complex Tuesday, trapping two people in an upstairs unit.

Flames broke out at just after 12:30 a.m. at the complex near Hardy and University drives.

While the fire damaged only two units, eight others were evacuated. Power had to be shut off to the entire building because the condos share a common attic, said Mike Reichling, an investigator with the Tempe Fire Department.

"When the fire got up into the attic, we were concerned about the electrical wiring so we had to turn the power off to the whole building," Reichling explained.

Investigators believe the fire broke out in the patio area of a ground unit. The three people living in that condo were asleep at the time, but thanks to their neighbors, got out safely.

"The neighbors really sprung into action," Reichling said. "They came out from everywhere and were breaking windows, trying to get the attention of the occupants inside."

A couple in their 20s who live upstairs from where the fire started were trapped for a time. They were finally able to escape through a window.

"They were crawling on their hands and knees, trying to get out," Reichling said. "They actually had to break a window out."

The woman cut her head in the process, and the man suffered second-degree burns and will need some skin grafts on his back, Reichling said. That man is in critical condition.

No other injuries were reported.

Fire crews from five jurisdictions were called out because of the Automatic Aid System.

"We are very grateful to have this system, to have those other jurisdictions be able to come in at a moment's notice" Reichling said. "We did bring over 40 firefighters out to the scene to work with our department and put that fire out quickly."

A total of 23 people have been displaced, mostly because of the lack of power to the building.

It's still not clear what sparked the fire, but investigators are not ruling out anything.