Dozens without water, power after apartment fire in Tempe, Red Cross helping

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Dozens of people are without water and power and a dozen more are being taken in by the Red Cross after a fire ripped through their apartment complex in Tempe.

It happened at about 10:30 Sunday night at the Regent's Park Apartments on Apache Boulevard west of McClintock.

Resident Richard Walters was going out his business, watch TV and making something to eat, at the time.

“All of a sudden smoke was billowing out of my air conditioning,” he said.

He immediately turned off his AC and contacted the building manager and maintenance man.

Firefighters arrived to find smoke coming from the second floor of the three-story complex but they could not immediately identify the source. Residents were already evacuating.

[SLIDESHOW: From the scene]

Crews did locate the source of the smoke; it was a fire in a wall between two of the units. They doused those flames and continued checking for any extension of the fire.

While the visible damage was not extensive, power to the building was either turned off or knocked out. It is not clear when SRP will be able to restore power, but repairs could take a couple of days. The entire complex is on a single meter, which means there is no way to isolate the units. Either everybody has power or nobody does.

The apartments are structurally safe, accessible and livable, but the lack of water and power is a problem.

"At night, it's not hot," resident Sam Anshasi said.

There is some concern, however, because of the unseasonable heat forecast for Monday. 

The Red Cross was called in to assist the residents. About 80 people called Regent's Park home.

While many people opted to spend the night in their apartments once the Tempe Fire Department and SRP deemed the building safe, the Red Cross expects many to seek relief from the heat as the day goes on.

"In the short term, people are here," Colin Williams of the Red Cross said. 

The Red Cross normally works with hotels to accommodate displaced residents, but because there are so many and will probably be more and because there are so many events in town, rooms are scarce. The Red Cross said it will be opening a shelter for the Regent's Park residents.

"We are going to open a shelter and give people a place to go and stay until they're back on their feet, until they can actually have their utilities restored," Colin Williams of the Red Cross said early Monday morning. "We suspect that [Monday], once the temperatures rise and once people realize the reality of them not having water and power, we're probably going to see a lot more people show up at that shelter."

The immediate future for the residents of Regent's Park is not clear

"The Red Cross will take care of people as long as we need to," Williams said.

A fire investigator is working to determine how the fire started.

No injuries were reported.

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

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