Early-morning apartment fire forces out residents

Residents were forced out of their homes after an early-morning apartment fire on Thursday.

- Flames shoot out of the rood of the condos a few blocks north of McDowell Road on 32nd Street.

The vacant apartment next to Maria Grubic's burned and the fire spread to her place.

"I just heard a lot of noise, saw a lot of smoke and I went to the balcony and out," she said.

She escaped.

A man upstairs suffered smoke inhalation and was rescued by firefighters.

However, there's a problem: People have broken into vacant apartments several times in the last few months starting the fires.

"We have had squatters, people trying to get warm, build a warming fire and it spreads within the apartment," Capt. Reda Bigler of the Phoenix Fire Department said. 

It took over 30 firefighters to subdue the smoke and flames, but this fire proved difficult to tame.

As we talked to Maria, we looked through a gap in the wall and saw smoke rolling around. The fire was starting back up again.

Phoenix fire returned to put it out, but people who live here blame the squatters for this mess.

"They have been doing this since the day after Christmas," Darry Gilbert said. "Now, I am just completely ruined. This is horrible, this is completely horrible."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


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