Fire at historic home sparks evacuation of Central Phoenix apartments

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Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland
Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland
Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland
Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland
Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home. By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Residents of a Central Phoenix apartment complex were forced to evacuate overnight because of a nearby fire at a boarded-up historic home.

Firefighters were called out to the neighborhood of Second and Roosevelt streets at about 2 a.m.

The house, which was built in 1909 and listed with the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office in 2004, was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene. All that separated the burning home from the remodeled apartment complex was narrow alley and a freshly painted wall.

Because the old two-story house was structurally unstable, firefighters had to fight the blaze from outside.

It was a rude awakening for people living in the apartments next door, many of whom are likely students at the nearby Arizona State University Downtown campus.

"My neighbor called me and said there was a fire at the house next door," said one young man. "I looked out my window and it was really bright outside. It's usually pretty dark out that window. I peered through the blinds and sure enough, I saw flames."

"It was scary waking up to people banging on your door yelling that you have a fire," another resident said. "Not my idea of a good alarm clock."

The house, which had servants' quarters and several fireplaces, appeared to have been quite a nice home at one point. It's not clear how long it had been vacant, but it was surrounded by a fence and the windows were boarded, so nobody should have been there. In addition, there was no gas or electricity to the building. While the cause of the fire has not been determined, crews believe the fire is suspicious. An investigation is under way.

At this point, it's believed that the fire started at the back of the property.

While a fire dog reportedly did not detect any accelerant, there was evidence vagrants had been on the property, including several cigarette butts on the back patio.

Crews were able to keep the flames from spreading, and no injuries were reported. Apartment residents were allowed back into their homes as soon as the fire was out.

A walk through the ruins of the home showed that the flames gutted it and destroyed the roof.

There reportedly were plans in the works to convert the property into a multi-use building while maintaining the historic value.

Members of the engine company that responded to the fire said they have several similar overnight fires at other vacant homes in the area over past two weeks.