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Family of five loses home and two dogs in devastating fire

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Posted at 9:49 PM, May 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-22 09:03:45-04

PHOENIX — A fire destroyed two homes, leaving two people injured, and two families with nothing on Friday.

This happened near Cave Creek Road and Sweetwater Avenue.

The Cortes family was one of two families that lost everything.

Tears were running down Ingrid Cortes' face as she recounted how she narrowly escaped the flames.

“I literally had to leave in order to survive,” she said.

Cortes described waking up to an inferno.

“There was black smoke everywhere and I could not see a thing,” Ingrid told ABC15.

She says her family’s dogs, Sponge and Max, were barking uncontrollably.

“Their barks were different than the barks they’ve ever barked. They were terrifying.”

Ingrid says she got out of her room, screaming for her mom and youngest brother. Her dad and oldest brother were not home at the time.

“I saw black smoke coming in my door,” said Ingrid.

She finally found them, and they tried to get out through the front door but were met with more flames.

“It was a wall of rage and there was no way to escape, and my mom started screaming,” she said.

“The neighbor came to save us,” her mom, Hilda Cortes, added.

That neighbor was Hizain Solis Camacho. He hopped the fence, jumped on a tin roof, and smashed through windows to pull the family out.

“They told me, ‘can you help?’ I said, ‘yes, I will. I’m here to help you. Let’s go,’” he told ABC15.

“If I was here for a little longer [with] the smoke…I wouldn’t be here,” said Hilda, in tears.

After the shock wore off, the three realized their dogs were no longer barking.

They looked back and their house was still on fire.

“I felt like they saved my life. They saved my brother’s life. They saved my mom’s [life]…and I’m going to miss them a lot,” Ingrid said in tears.

The family is also going to miss the memories they made in this home, for the last two decades.

“Everything burned,” said Ingrid.

The family's savings, pictures, and Ingrid's college savings...all gone.

“My home is with my family and although we’ve lived here our whole lives, we can do that again. But it’s never going to be the same without my two dogs,” said Ingrid while wiping the tears.

The family has started an online fundraiser to help them as they start over.

“We are going to start from zero and, little by little, we are going to try our hardest to move forward,” said Ingrid’s dad, Andres Cortes.

The family of five says they are grateful to the community for stopping by their home and donating.

They say every little bit counts, and everything is appreciated.