Firefighters investigate 3 model apartment fires in north Phoenix

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Fires at three model apartments in north Phoenix happened just days and blocks apart, and fire investigators are looking into what caused them.

Firefighters have not confirmed if they are looking for an arsonist but a sign posted at Banyantree Apartments, the scene of the latest fire, is promoting a $10,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest of an arsonist.

Residents rushed out of their homes as flames shot out of second- and third-floor units at the apartment near 28th Drive north of Cactus Road Thursday night.

"I smelled smoke, so I went out and saw some blue and red lights in my dining room window,” said Jim Glezen, who lives in the complex.

"I was asleep and my girlfriend woke me up, and she said that there was a bunch of firefighters outside,” said resident Joseph Blaisure. "We saw flames inside, and they got it all done and over with. They were hitting the roof and stuff."

James Anderson, whose unit is next to those that caught fire, said his first concern was to get his kids out of the building.

"People were banging on doors, telling everyone to get out, the place is on fire," he said. "It was right next door to me, so we got smoke damage. That's the worst of it, so I'm grateful for that."

Glezen said investigators were asking residents if they had seen anything suspicious.

"This is a real quiet apartment complex, real safe and everything," he said. "These apartments are 50 years old, so it could be anything. It could be wiring, could be insulation, could be a bulb breaking and it sparks. It’s hard to say."

On Tuesday, Presidio North Apartments near 11th Avenue and Bell Road also had a model unit catch fire.

"I was asleep. It was 1:35 a.m. and my apartment was very, very smoky and I was like, 'What's going on?” said Quentin Rucker, who lives above the model unit. "I don't know if it was arson or not. I just can't say."

The third model apartment fire happened Friday morning at the Villas at Cave Creek on Cactus Road near 25th Avenue.

"I was very scared," resident Lynn Johnson said. "It could have been a worse disaster than it really was."

Johnson lives next door to the model unit that caught fire.

"They didn't know if it was coming through the bedroom wall,” she said.

Firefighters kicked in Johnson's door to make sure.

"I am so close. You can see all the damage from the back here," she said, referring to the charred stucco and debris on the ground.

Alex Jimenez also lives near the model unit.

"I just saw the flames coming out, and I went and knocked on a couple of doors to get my neighbors out," he said.

Neighbors said they believe the fire was an accident and are just glad no one was hurt.

"I haven't seen anything suspicious,” Johnson said.

Anyone with information is asked to call 602-26-ARSON or 1-800-35-ARSON.