Elderly woman, dog die in Scottsdale townhouse fire

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(Source: Scottsdale Police Dept.) (Source: Scottsdale Police Dept.)
(Source: Scottsdale Police Dept.) (Source: Scottsdale Police Dept.)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

An elderly woman and her dog are dead after a fire ripped through the woman's Scottsdale townhouse early Sunday morning.

Firefighters were called out to  North 78th Street and East Meadowbrook Avenue at about 5 a.m.

The Scottsdale Fire Department said it looks like the fire started on the back patio and then moved into the home and up the stairs. Live wire was found hanging low near the patio and smoke was showing from the outside of the building.

Debbie Bauer, who lives in the adjoining townhouse, said she knew something was wrong the minute she woke up.

"I could see the flames shooting out of the back window of the adjoined house which is where Darla lived," Bauer said.

"I said [to my partner], 'Call 911! The house is on fire next door!'" she explained. "And so I ran out the back, got the hose turned on as much as I could, screaming for the neighbors to wake up." 

Crews from Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tempe responded to the multiple 911 calls that were made during the early morning hours by those living nearby.

"They ended up finding one female occupant that lived there," Capt. Dwayne Bader said. She was on the first floor by the kitchen, according to Lori Schmidt, a spokeswoman for the Scottsdale Fire Department.

First responders rushed the woman, who Bauer said was in her 80s, to HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center, where she later died of her injuries.

While officials have not released any information about the victim, Bauer willingly talked to us about her.

She told us she and the homeowner were "good neighbors" and recalled helping out the elderly woman with a television problem just a few weeks ago. 

She also told us that the woman had a dog that she walked every day. Firefighters found that poodle dead in the bedroom on the second floor.

Bauer described the victim as "kind," sharing a conversation she had with her shortly after the woman's her adult son died in December. 

"After he passed away, she told me she had taken care of him for all the years because he had a disability," Bauer said. 

"We were really really good neighbors," Bauer continued, holding back tears.

Fire investigators believe the woman's home was equipping with at least one working smoke detector.

"Neighbors reported hearing a smoke alarm from the home," Schmidt said. "It is recommended that there is at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the home and in each sleeping area.  Because smoke rises, alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings. Smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month and the entire unit should be replaced every 10 years."   

While some nearby home were evacuated as a precaution, no other injuries were reported.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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