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Rose Fire destroys homes, leaves families picking up the pieces



Three days after fire erupted along US60, families are finding they have nothing left.

PHOENIX — Kara Tracy remembers everything about her childhood home. She remembers the adventures, the fun and the laughter. However, on Wednesday, it all was taken away.

“It’s 25 years being there and everything they’ve ever worked for and built a life for us kids,” she said. “Now it’s all gone.”

Tracy is one of many people dealing with the aftermath 

Just after 4 p.m. Wednesday, flames erupted from the Hassayampa Riverbed. It was a fast-moving fire that spread to more than 200 acres. Evacuations were mandatory for some, including Tracy’s father, Jerry Engemann.

“My dad was home,” she said. “My brother called me and told me he’s getting dad out and they just grabbed what they could, which wasn’t very much. They grabbed the cat; my mom’s ashes and he had the clothes on his back. Police were knocking on his door telling him to get out, he didn’t have time.”

The house was a place full of memories. It was where her mom and dad chose to get married, where they built a family together, and where her family mourned the recent passing of her mom.

Tracy said knowing it’s now all gone is heartbreaking.

“We lost a lot of sentimental items in the house,” she said. “We have all my mom’s pictures from when she was a child, when she was pregnant. She had five kids, so she had all those memories in a box. They’re all gone, there’s nothing left of them.”

The Rose Fire destroyed 15 structures and at least seven were primary residences. One house spared belongs to Austin Partridge’s dad.

“I had just gotten home from work and one of my buddies called and said your barn is on fire,” he said. “So, I got over here and the fire was almost to the house. We were just trying to keep it away from the houses and keep the animals safe. We did what we could.”

After nearly 10 hours, Austin, his family, neighbors and even strangers were able to save the home. One cow is still unaccounted and two of their horses may have to be put down. It was something they had never experienced before.

“Well, the adrenaline kicks in,” he said. “We had to catch the horses they were freaking out running back and forth. We had the neighbors down here, one of the guys from Southwest Gas was down here and he wasn’t on the clock, he just happened to be driving by.”

His family also attributed their success to the dedication of fire crews, who were still working Saturday putting out hot spots. 

“We’re just so grateful for all the fire crews,” he said. “They were on it, there was no messing around. They had the air tankers here, they were on top of it. We wouldn’t have a house if they weren’t down in the river helping, doing their thing.”

Looking ahead, his family is grateful to have a roof over their head. As for Tracy’s family, she’s just thankful her father made it out alive.

“We’re just taking it day by day, moment by moment,” she said. “We’re super blessed with the community outreach for our family. Many donating their time, money, clothing and shoes for my dad. He’s getting through it the best way he can.”

Tracy set up a GoFundMe for her father. If you’d like to help you can go here.

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