Family who lost everything in Phoenix house fire looks ahead

“God allowed us to keep on going,” Andres Cortes said. And that’s what he and his wife Hilda plan to do.
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 9:07 PM MST|Updated: May. 22, 2022 at 11:05 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — There’s no way to prepare for something like a house fire. For the Cortes family, over two decades of living in one place ended in one day when their home was one of two that burned to the ground Friday morning in north Phoenix. The memories of their home remain but so does the sadness that any new memories won’t be happening inside anytime soon.

“God allowed us to keep on going,” Andres Cortes said. And that’s what he and his wife Hilda plan to do, even if, in many ways, it feels like they are starting over. “They have to start from zero,” niece Jinay Diaz said. “Everything they have right now is the clothes they’re wearing. They were donated, actually.”

When the fire started Friday morning, Andres had already left for his job in construction. Hilda made sure she and their two kids got out of the house safely. Unfortunately, they couldn’t save their pitbull Sponge or their chihuahua Max. But they found Sponge’s remains Friday night.

And Saturday morning, despite so much destruction, they found Max’s remains too. “Just seeing him, he burned actually,” Diaz said. “His little legs were burned. All that was left was his lower back and his tail.” Sponge and Max might be gone, but Hilda says there is closure in knowing their bodies were found.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for the $13,000 Andres was saving for daughter Ingrid’s college tuition. Andres was also saving for a father-son construction company he hoped to start sometime soon. “We don’t have anything,” Hilda said.

Thankfully, neighbors have done what they can to help. “They’re very happy to see everybody come together and help out with whatever they can,” Diaz said.

It’s too soon for Andres and Hilda to know if they’ll rebuild their home. They’re leaning toward moving somewhere else to get away from this fire and everything associated with it. “God gave us a tough test,” Andres said. “But we’ll move forward.” If you’d like to help the Cortes’ get back on their feet, here is the link to a GoFundMe they’ve started.