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2-alarm fire in South Phoenix left Catholic ministry in ruins

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- It was a massive firefighting response to a two-alarm fire in South Phoenix on Monday, with as many as 60 firefighters battling the flames in the 100-plus degree heat.

In a matter of seconds, Rebecca Ruiz noticed something unusual.

"It happened to be my office that was filling with smoke a little bit, so I stepped out and asked the ladies if they could smell smoke too," said Ruiz.

The building Ruiz's family ran a Catholic ministry out of for more than 20 years turned into a raging inferno, one that could be seen for miles.

"At one point, there was a partial roof collapse, and that's when our crews pulled out of the building," said Cpt. Kenny Overton with the Phoenix Fire Department.

The ministry now sits in ruins, with memories lost and gone forever.

"We have some beautiful things that were left by my father, who no longer lives," said Ruiz. "He was an artist. He painted, and we have some beautiful paintings in there, and so that, for me, was the most emotional thing, was that the paintings that he painted that we couldn't get out."

"Our memories don't come from that, they come from our experiences, so that's why we're here together, gathering and praying and that's what we do as a family," said Xochitl Ramirez, Ruiz's daughter.

The family says they'll be back.

"In the end, everyone was well. Everyone was fine, the bricks and mortar can be replaced," said Ruiz. "My father's paintings will be the tears that were shed, but again, I'm hoping for some miracles when we walk back into that building."