Woman killed when 3 homes burn in Apache Junction mobile home park

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A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland
A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland
A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland
A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland
A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned to the ground at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland

APACHE JUNCTION -- A 52-year-old woman was killed when three homes burned at an Apache Junction mobile home park early Wednesday morning.

Crews were called out for a trailer fire at the Apache Skies Mobile Home and RV Park on Ironwood Drive south of Apache Trail just before 2 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, flames had already spread to two other homes -- another mobile home on one side and an RV on the other.

The victim, whose name has not been released, lived in the home where the fire started. Two other people also lived in that home.

One of the men who lived there said he awoke to find his home engulfed in flames and smoke. He said he grabbed his prosthetic leg and escaped through a window.

"I'm glad to be alive," said Howard Hansen. "My friend saved my life."

He said the 52-year-old woman who died was confined to a wheelchair. The woman, identified by friends and neighbors only as Kay, could not move around by herself and nobody could get to her when the fire trapped her inside.

One neighbor said he heard the victim, whose name has not been formally released.

"[T]hen the flames just engulfed it and you couldn't hear her any more," said Danny Stout. "The flames were louder than anything. It went up in a matter of seconds.

"It was chaos. There were people going everywhere, trying to get away from it."

Friends say while the victim couldn't get around without help, she never shied away from helping others herself.

"She was very active in this community, and any place she lived," said Jesse Welsh-Alexis. "Taking care of the homeless, or helping people, or just being a good friend to everyone."

The homes in the park are very close together, creating a difficult situation for firefighters.

"We were watching where the embers were blowing and pointing them out to the fire department so they could keep up on it," Stout said. "The palm trees were burning and losing branches that were on fire."

Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading any further.

"They did an excellent job of keeping control of it," Stout said.

It's not yet known what sparked the fire.

Fire crews and police expected to remain on the scene for several more hours.

"The fire is still under investigation," said Deputy Chief Dave Montgomery of the Apache Junction Fire Department. "We're still trying to gather facts and talk to all of the witnesses involved."

Investigators will spend the day sifting through the charred ruins of the home in an effort to determine exactly what happened.

The third person who lived in the home where the fire started suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to the hospital. No other injuries were reported.

The Red Cross is helping the survivors with clothing, food and place to stay.

A car wash to help raise money for the funeral of the woman who died in the fire will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20 at New Vision Christian Fellowship Church.

The church is located at 5013 East Broadway Road in Mesa, and the car wash will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.