Three families displaced by fire, receive assistance from Red Cross

PHOENIX - Three families have been displaced after fire damaged their attached homes Friday morning. All are receiving help from the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter.

The Red Cross is evaluating the emergency needs of the families and will provide shelter, clothing and food as needed, according to spokeswoman Trudy Thompson Rice.

Fire officials initially received a report of a fire in one of the units of the four-unit condominium near 48th Street and Baseline Road around 2:30 a.m. Firefighters arrived and put out the fire. At the time, authorities believed the fire may have started with a water heater.

At about 8 a.m. the Phoenix Fire Department was called out to the same location after a second fire sparked, involving all four units, officials said. The homes share a common attic and all the units were destroyed with 14 people displaced. Three of the homes were occupied.

Denise Whipple was checking on her neighbors to see how they were holding up when she saw the fire had sparked again.

"So at that point I kind of panicked a little bit I guess. I went back and got my phone, called 911 and tried to get them back to the same location," she said.

Then she ran over to make sure no one was inside.

Everyone made it out okay. But three families lost their homes.

"It's devastating, just to look around and everything you have is gone," Whipple said.

Whipple knows what that feels like. She lost her own home in New York to a fire last April.

"I lived in an old bungalow. So it went up very quickly. This right here, this is really hard for me to look at. You know I really feel for these people," she said.

She says her community helped her get back on her feet. And now Whipple wants to pay that forward by helping out her neighbors.

"It's just hard to see everybody lose what they have. But you know, they'll recover," she said.

No injuries were reported.

Officials say at this point the cause of the fire has been ruled "undetermined." The Phoenix Fire Department expects to have a report out on the fires by Monday.


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