Man believed dead in house fire found safe outside - WNEM TV 5

Man believed dead in house fire found safe outside

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The homeowner, who everyone thought was dead in the fire, is warmly embraced. (Source: CBS 5 News) The homeowner, who everyone thought was dead in the fire, is warmly embraced. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Dense smoke billowed from the burning home, hampering efforts to find the man. (Source: Phoenix Fire Department) Dense smoke billowed from the burning home, hampering efforts to find the man. (Source: Phoenix Fire Department)

A man who was thought dead in a Maryvale house fire Tuesday night was found safe outside after firefighters spent 20 minutes looking for him in the burning structure, Phoenix fire crews said.

When fire broke out around 6:30 p.m., neighbors in the area of 5433 W. Edgemont Avenue had warned the homeowner not to re-enter the house to save his pets.

"My dad went back in to see if anyone was there, and I was screaming for him to see if he was OK," said Linea Marple, who lived inside the home and escaped from the fire.

With the house engulfed in flames and smoke, the man ignored their orders and went back in. He was able to release one of his pets through a window.

"He didn't come out, and we just knew he was in there," said Leandra Marple, who also lived in the home and escaped from the fire.

Neighbors said they never saw him come back out.

Firefighters mounted a rescue effort to try to find the man and pull him to safety.

Crews had zero visibility and had to use thermal imaging cameras. Fears the structure would collapse drove them back outside.  

About 40 minutes later, the man suddenly appeared and walked up to firefighters on the street to tell them he was OK. 

One of the firefighters said it was one of the strangest happy endings in his 20 years with the department.

Neighbor Marco Antonio Gamez, who initially spotted the fire, said, "Oh my God. I can't believe he is alive. I thought he was dead."  

"I was happy. We thought he was dead!" a neighbor said. "He's alive. That's awesome!"

His two cats survived, although one of them suffered burns and smoke inhalation.

It's not known what sparked the fire. 

 Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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