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Valley family urges importance of renters insurance after losing everything in fire

The family did not have insurance and is now finding refuge with family as they try to get back on their feet.

PHOENIX — A Valley family is urging the importance of renters insurance after a raging fire consumed the home they've rented for years.

One minute Monica Peñuelas was comfortably sleeping on her bed, the next she was running for her life as the home she shared with her mother and stepfather was engulfed in flames.

Almost all of what she owned was destroyed in the house fire near McDowell Road and 41st Avenue on Thursday.

“I keep having that memory of my mom shouting, 'Monica wake up! The house is on fire!' I just see the flames spreading within seconds,” she said.  

It was shortly before 9 a.m. when her neighbors woke her up by knocking on the door.

A fire was raging in the back of their house, making its way inside and around the front.

Peñuelas remembers being a little disoriented, but recalls grabbing her laptop, dog, and calling 911.

“Never, never would have I imagined this to happen and within a minute everything you own [is] just gone,” she said.

The fire possibly started after an electrical breaker failure, Peñuelas said she was told by firefighters.

EN ESPAÑOL: Una familia del Valle insta sobre la importancia de seguro de inquilinos después de haber perdido todo en un incendio

During last week’s rainy weather, she recalls the breakers malfunctioning and the family being without electricity for several hours.

The breaker box is located in the back of the house, next to where Peñuelas' carpet materials are stored for her business. She believes that helped fuel the fire, all the way to the room where she operated her at-home business.

“It’s all gone,” she said with a broken voice while entering a room that left holes in the ceiling and debris on the flood. “I’ve put in thousands and thousands of dollars in my business, I remodeled this room too.”

Most of the equipment she used for her body sculpting and esthetician work was destroyed by the fire or damaged by water firefighters used to contain the flames.

“I’m going to have to start from scratch pretty much,” Peñuelas said. “We have nothing covered, so it’s not like we can try to recompensate everything we lost.”

The family had been renting the home for several years but did not have renters insurance to cover their possessions. The owner of the home will rebuild, but they are left finding refuge with family members.

“I would urge everyone to get renters insurance if you don’t already, that’s not something we knew about… but, for future reference now we know,” she said.

The family’s four family dogs survived the fire. Two of their three parrots died following in the blaze.

“At the end of the day none of us got hurt and [thanks to God] that’s all that matters to me at least,” Peñuelas said.

The family set up a GoFundMe account in hopes of getting back on their feet soon.

 

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