Firefighters from several departments in the southeast Valley fought to save a mortuary in Chandler.
According to a Chandler Fire Department spokesperson, the fire ignited Sunday night at Valley of the Sun Mortuary, near Chandler Heights and Alma School roads.
According to an employee from the mortuary's parent company, there were no bodies inside the building at the time of the fire, however the employee did not know if any urns or ashes inside the building were damaged by the flames.
Crews from Gilbert and Sun Lakes also responded to the scene, according to Blas Minor, a Chandler Fire spokesman.
Minor said firefighters had been pulled from inside the structure and were fighting the fire defensively using water from several ladder trucks.
According to information from the scene early Monday morning, the building was destroyed by the fire and crews were still putting out hot spots.
The mortuary is surrounded by a cemetery, frequented by those who want to feel close to loved ones who have passed away.
"It feels peaceful, which gives you some closure because of the loss," said Taryn Schultz. "This is such a beautiful place... and it's always such a peaceful place to come."
Her peace was replaced by anxiety Sunday night when a friend told her about the fire.
"I mean, the grief already - when you've lost a loved one... somewhere like this actually brings comfort," Schultz said. "Because it's your place to go and visit and I can't imagine going through devastation like that again."
Luckily, fire crews were able to contain the damage to one building. Schultz describes it as sort of like a lobby for sales and viewings before a funeral.
Schultz is very thankful that the crime tape will soon be down, and because of the quick action of firefighters, this will be a peaceful place one again.
"I don't think they know how appreciative every parent that has a loved one or every family member that has a loved one here is right now," Schultz said.
In a statement, the mortuary says it is working to contact families that had services scheduled this week to make alternate arrangements and are cooperating with investigators.
The statement read in part:
"We would like to thank the first responders and firefighters who responded to the fire and contained it immediately. We remain open to serve families in the community, operating out of the Mausoleum Chapel on-site and are extending our hours until 7 p.m. Any of our client family members with questions or concerns are encouraged to call us at 480-895-9232.”
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
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