PHOENIX — Neighbors who witnessed a massive fire that spread to multiple apartments in north Phoenix and left 16 people displaced Monday night are sharing their stories.
At around 9 p.m., crews responded to a two-story apartment fire near 19th Avenue and Thunderbird Road.
Firefighters arrived at the scene and found two apartment units burning on the second floor. The fire had also extended throughout the attic space of two other apartments, officials say.
The blaze reached four apartments on the second floor with another four units below that were impacted by smoke and water.
The fire was soon extinguished and about 16 people were displaced, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.
Neighbors tell ABC15, this fire was very aggressive and spread quickly.
“The fire had just gotten so big, so quick. It was, within minutes there was nothing anyone could do,” said a neighbor.
That neighbor lives in a building close by and says when the fire broke out, people were frantically trying to get everyone out.
“There were people banging on both doors screaming fire, fire. You could see the flames coming out of the balcony. The roof was starting to come down. Fire extinguishers weren’t even working at that point,” she added.
Jolene Abel says she was driving into her complex when she saw the apartment, next door to hers, on fire.
“So, I was freaking out, I thought, you know, my cat,” said Abel, while visibly shaken.
That’s when she says she ran upstairs and realized her cat had already gotten out.
She says it didn’t take long for black smoke to fill the space.
“And then it was just…everything was on fire,” said Abel.
“What I heard from the fire starting was, you know, they were cooking and a cat knocked something over and next thing they knew the whole kitchen was on fire,” added a neighbor.
That same neighbor says the pets, inside the apartment where the fire broke out, didn’t make it.
“I believe it was one dog and a few cats,” she added.
“They have to be having a terrible day because I can’t imagine if I had lost my cat. That’s your family, you know?” said Abel.
The Phoenix Fire Department says firefighters were able to save a dog in an apartment below the flames.
“We ask to make sure they all have collars on. Make sure you have leash by the door so if they’re a scenario where we to get a dog out of the fire, we have resources available,” said Captain Evan Gammage.
Now Abel is left figuring out how she and her 9-year-old son will move forward.
“Everything we’ve collected over the last you know, several years…is gone now,” said a neighbor,” she said, nearly in tears.
“I really wish the best for everybody’s family involved. It’s heartbreaking,” added a neighbor.
Abel tells ABC15 the on-site manager at Granite Bay immediately got them relocated to vacant units, and the complex is having the Red Cross come out to help give them food, clothing, and anything else they may need.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is currently unknown.
An investigation is underway.