Man dies in Phoenix apartment fire - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Man dies in Phoenix apartment fire

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PHOENIX -

A man died after an apartment went up in flames on Sunday morning.

Phoenix Fire Department describes the victim as an elderly man believed to be about 65-years-old.

There were reports that he used an oxygen tank but that he also smoked cigarettes.

Neighbors tell us they often warned him that it was a deadly combination.

"I was in there, I couldn't breathe anymore so I just let go of the gate, I just--I couldn't get him out, I just got my other neighbors out instead," said Adrianna Villalobos.

Villalobos put her own safety aside Sunday morning when she ran into a burning apartment in an attempt to save her elderly neighbor.

"I was screaming for him, screaming to tell him, "Get out, get out," but he has a really bad back," said Villalobos.

"It was like a sonic boom or something going off, Angel was going crazy barking," said Martha Doney, a neighbor.  

Residents of the Palm Gardens Complex on Maryland Avenue near 16th Street heard the explosion around 10:30 a.m.

Immediately after, they saw thick black smoke and flames shooting out of what they describe as unit #2.

"I heard people warn him before, 'Don't be falling asleep with your oxygen, don't be smoking while you are doing your oxygen'," said Martha Doney.

"If this is the elderly gentleman that lives in that apartment, he had a history of supplemental oxygen so there were multiple oxygen tanks inside and had a history of smoking that came in on the 911 calls," said Capt. Tony Mure, with Phoenix Fire Department.

Mure says by early afternoon crews were working to finish inspecting the apartment.

As residents waited to go back into their homes they expressed sorrow over a life lost.

"He's a nice guy, gotta try to help people regardless," said Villalobos.

The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation. The residents who have been displaced should be allowed back into their apartments by the end of the day on Sunday.

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