Fire damages several units at Tempe apartment complex

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Several apartments were damaged by fire Tuesday morning at a complex on Hayden Lane near University Drive and McClintock Drive.

"Right now, we have about 12 units that people are going to displaced from, and about two or three of them were significantly damage; about another three had minor damage to them," said Alex Myers with the Tempe Fire Department.

The fire broke out around 9 a.m. at the Hayden Lane Apartment Complex.

"Next thing I knew fire was coming out and I just told everybody on the third floor to start banging to get people out," said Phyllis Thompson, a tenant of the complex.

"It looked like it was going to take off to the tree over here, it looked like the whole apartments were about to burn up, this whole thing was just red and then just a bunch of black smoke filling the sky," tenant Whitney Furlow said.

Nobody was hurt.

Tempe Fire told 3TV the fire started in a second story unit, and then spread from there.

Steven Abraio lives across the pool from where the fire started.

"I opened my front door and I can feel the heat come all the way across, like, into my house. The heat was so intense," Abraio said.

When they arrived on scene, fire was blowing out every window and door.

It took three departments, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale and nearly 50 firefighters to put the flames out.

"If you were trapped in it when we got on scene, conditions would have warranted probably wouldn't have been a survivable event," said Myers.

How the fire started is still unclear.

Fire investigators were at the complex for most of the afternoon, combing through the scorched apartments and talking with neighbors.

One of those neighbors said she tried to help alert people to the fire, but claims her efforts were hampered by faulty alarms.

"As soon as I saw the fire, I went and tried to pull the fire detectors and none of them worked," Thompson said.

3TV called the leasing office number and spoke with a woman named Lisa who denied that claim, saying the alarms had all just been serviced and were in working order.

Fire officials say whether that was the case will also be part of their investigation.

The complex management company is working to relocate the displaced residents. In the meantime, three families are being helped by The American Red Cross.