GLENDALE, Ariz. - Glendale police say four people were found dead Wednesday morning after a house fire near 51st and Dunlap avenues.
Police say a loud explosion shook the neighborhood early Wednesday morning.
Firefighters responded after 1 a.m. and were able to knock down the flames but not before it claimed the lives of four people.
Ironwood High School confirmed one of its students was killed in the blaze. 12 News has learned that student was freshman Tabitha Gilsinger. Police said her 41-year-old mother also died.The investigation is ongoing and police say they are treating it as "suspicious."
“Everybody was crying," said Lexi, a freshman at Ironwood High School in Glendale.
“She was quiet, but she was never shy," said Lexi. "She loved meeting new people, and she was kindest person that I know.”
The love for this family was just as strong in the neighborhood where the fire happened.
Loved ones passed the house, many leaving flowers in front of it to honor the lives lost.
"We’re a very close-knit community here," said Candy, who lives across the street from the house that burned down. "We all watched out for each other.”
Investigators from the Glendale Police Department were not able determine a cause right away, but they said they found some of the family members trying escape their home.
“It looks like one person may have been trying to get out of the front, and two may have been trying to get out of the back," said. Scott Waite.
The family of the victims sent this statement to 12 News Wednesday night:
"We are devastated by the loss of our family members Heather Johnson and her three children. We appreciate the love and support we have felt from friends and the community. There are still many unanswered questions at this time and we trust that the police and fire investigators will be able to bring us the information we need for closure. We ask you to keep our family in your prayers."
Ironwood High School sent a letter about the fire to parents:
Dear Ironwood High School Parents and Guardians,
We are sending this letter home to our Eagles’ family with a heavy heart. Sadly, one of our freshman students passed away, along with three other family members, in a house fire last night. We were informed of the news first thing this morning. We our sending our heartfelt condolences to the family and stand ready to do whatever we can to offer our support.
We immediately put a plan in place, with input from our Behavior Specialist and teachers, to best disseminate the news to our students. It is important to us that we provide any assistance possible when our students are subjected to a tragic loss. The Behavior Specialist will be available, as needed, to offer services to students, should they request assistance. Please find time to process with your child about this loss and let us know how we can be of assistance in this time of grief.
We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family. As always, we appreciate your caring and support.
Those who want to donate to help the family with funeral costs can use a YouCaring page set up in their name to do so.