Condo fire leaves more than 20 Phoenix residents homeless

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Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment buildings Saturday morning. By Catherine Holland Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment buildings Saturday morning. By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment building Saturday morning. By Catherine Holland Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment building Saturday morning. By Catherine Holland
Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment building Saturday morning. By Catherine Holland Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment building Saturday morning. By Catherine Holland
Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment buildings Saturday morning. By Catherine Holland Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment buildings Saturday morning. By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Several Phoenix residents are left with nothing after a fire tore through not one, but two apartment buildings Saturday morning.

It started in the Breckenridge Condominiums on the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Grovers Avenue, which is north of Bell Road. Thick black smoke poured into the sky and was visible for miles.

When 3TV's crews arrived on the scene, flames were shooting 15 feet into the air and had already spread to the second building about 20 feet away.

Resident said they had very little time to react.

"We woke up to the fire coming through my front door," said one resident. "We had to go out the window. I got my dog, but I couldn't get my cats. We didn't grab anything so we're just waiting to go back in to be able to see if they're OK."

According to Tony Mure of the Phoenix Fire Department, the call came in about 10 minutes before 9 a.m. The caller reported one apartment on fire.

Bystanders on the scene said the flames spread extremely quickly, climbing up to the second story. From there, the fire moved into the attic.

"We had a huge amount of fire load for a good 20 or 30 minutes," Mure said.

Flames through the roof forced firefighters to go defensive. The fire went second alarm, which means between 100 and 120 firefighters were called out to the scene.

"The challenge was the fire was ripping so fast, so quickly, and it was above our heads on the second floor and up into the attic," Mure explained. "Along with our hand lines, we had to go very quickly to a defensive operation and raise our aerial streams from our ladder trucks."

Major streets in the area were closed while the firefighters worked to get the flames under control. Several nearby buildings were also evacuated as a precaution.

In the end, the fast-moving fire destroyed 16 apartments in two separate buildings.

One of the bystanders -- an off-duty firefighter with the Daisy Mountain Fire Department -- helped evacuate some of the residents. He told Phoenix firefighters that he saw a woman jump from a second-story window and land in the bushes. Mure said that woman suffered very minor injuries.

At least two of the residents who lost everything in the fire told 3TV they had just moved in and did not yet have renters' insurance.

Investigators don't yet know what sparked the fire.

Two firefighters reportedly were hospitalized -- one for smoke inhalation and one for heat exhaustion. Both have since been released.

Although one resident was treated for smoke inhalation, no other serious injuries were reported. It is possible, however, that several of the residents might have lost their pets in the fire.

The Red Cross was called in to help the residents -- as many as 25 people -- who were displaced by the fire.