Neighbors, Amazon driver tried to save family from deadly Phoenix apartment fire

Arizona's Family reporter Sarah Robinson spoke with a neighbor who tried to help after a fast-moving fire broke out, leaving a child dead and four others hurt.
Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 5:16 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Investigators are still trying to determine how a fast-moving fire began at a north Phoenix apartment complex Wednesday afternoon. The tragic situation left a child dead and four others hurt, including a woman, two firefighters and a good Samaritan.

On Thursday, Arizona’s Family learned more about the heroic efforts of people nearby who did everything they could to help. “Once we got her out, she just kept crying, like, ‘my baby is in the room, my baby is inside,’” said Jack Watson, a neighbor who tried to help.

As flames quickly spread Wednesday, another neighbor, Skyler Watson, jumped in to help. “Me and my girlfriend were just playing a game when the door just got banged on,” Watson said. But when he opened the door, no one was there.

“Five seconds later, the whole staircase was just engulfed in black smoke,” Watson said.

In an instant, he knew what was wrong and what to do. “I saw a woman reaching out of the laundry room area,” he said. “So I ran upstairs to get my fire extinguisher. It took me maybe five seconds to get it and come back.”

Watson started spraying down the front door area, where he says there were heavy flames and smoke. He then noticed two other people trying to help those trapped inside get out. He says his neighbor and an Amazon driver who was delivering packages were able to pull a woman from the burning unit.

“By that point, they were able to get her out; my nextdoor neighbor and the Amazon driver,” Watson said. But the toddler was still inside.

“We tried to do what we could, but the doorway was so hot. Getting even near it was pretty hard to do,” said Watson.

He says Phoenix firefighters got there about a minute after he first noticed the flames. But as fast as the response was, it wasn’t fast enough to save the toddler.

“It’s every firefighter’s nightmare to have to see a child that was beyond our resuscitative efforts,” Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade said on Wednesday.

How that child is related to the woman is still not clear. She remains in extremely critical condition.

“Talking about it doesn’t feel real for sure,” Watson said.

Yesterday, Phoenix Fire said there was a man who suffered severe cuts while trying to get people out. Skyler says he doesn’t know who that was but wants to tell him thank you. “They were knocking on everyone’s door and then running down ... it could’ve been him.” Watson said.

Phoenix fire officials say the cause of the fire remains under investigation. They are now in the process of reviewing evidence and surveillance footage to ensure the fire was not set on purpose.

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