Residents return home after massive fire in Gilbert

Gilbert FD determines evacuated residents can return home following 3-alarm fire

GILBERT, Ariz. - It's a moment few people are prepared for, and even less people think can happen to them. 

"It's hard to even fathom right now," said Sasha Whipple. 

Whipple and Matthew Gilbert are finally back home after being evacuated from their condo.

"We were the luckiest ones in the unit because we didn't lose any windows." Gilbert said after taking a long afternoon nap.

It could have been so much worse for Sasha, Matthew and their three four-legged friends in Gilbert. 

A massive fire burned right next door. The apartment complex under construction where the fire happened is now a complete loss.

The flames were visible from thousands of feet in the air -- scorching anything nearby, melting cars and turning five months of construction to rubble.

Gilbert compared the heat to something we all know.

"You know that barrier where it's really uncomfortable at a camp fire. It was past that,” he said.

Aside from the heat, one more prevalent thought was on their minds. "We might lose everything, Whipple said. "What were we going to do if that was the case. We wouldn't have a place to stay long term if that had happened."

Fire crews and police evacuated the entire apartment complex because of high levels of carbon monoxide in the air. Residents left at about 8:30 Saturday night and were not able to return until 10 a.m. Sunday morning.

It was a close call for dozens of people counting their blessings Sunday in Gilbert. 

"It was just a lot of relief that everything was okay. I had my dad’s ashes in there and would have been really devastated if I lose those," Whipple said.

PHOTOS: 3-alarm fire at Gilbert apartment complex 

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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