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Family loses Phoenix home to fire on Christmas Eve

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Posted at 9:19 PM, Dec 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-27 00:29:06-05

PHOENIX — A family is pleading for help after a fire destroyed everything in their home.

On Christmas Eve morning, after a last-minute decision to open Christmas presents early, a lit candle destroyed the Menjivar's home near 15th Ave and Buckeye in South Phoenix.

"The spark of the candle had got in little spots and it just engulfed. I had no chance," said Theresa Menjivar. "The fire was inside the house it was swirling all over, all over. Like we were in hell. I just prayed to god, get us out. And that fire didn’t touch us."

Menjivar's husband tried blocking the fire with a mattress, but that blocked Theresa in a room, When he moved the mattress, he was trapped in a bedroom, and had to break the window with his head in order to escape. Apparently, all of the other homes Menjivar's landlord owns in the neighborhood have cast iron bars on the windows. This was the only home that did not.

Menjivar and her 26-year-old daughter, Denise, who has down syndrome, were panicked and trapped in the hallway, where a coffee cart was initially blocking their way. The duo was finally able to escape to the backyard.

The family, who rents, said their landlord will not force them to pay rent, and even offered the family to live in the home once it's remodeled, but Menjivar said she is moving on from the home entirely.

"It feels like death," said Menjivar. "I just ask whoever can give me a quarter I don’t care because I have nothing. I have nothing for my daughter."

A GoFundMe has been set up here to help the family as they look to start over.