Family Salvages Belongings After Fire Rips Through Home

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Sat, April 7 2012 at 6:43 PM, Updated: Sat, April 7 2012 at 6:58 PM

The VanPelts are salvaging all they can.

"It's really bad, it's bad in there. We can't even get the front door open," said Kathy VanPelt, who has lived in the home for two years.

VanPelt said her husband left for work and a fire tore through their home on Friday.

Fire crews arrived around 3 in the afternoon on Friday to find smoke billowing out of the couple's Phoenix home.

"I was in bed sleeping and I heard the smoke detector go off...came out and saw smoke and we just got out of there," recalled Kathy VanPelt.

She said was able to save their family dog and cat, but many of their belongings burned.

"I've never been homeless before, that's what scares me is being homeless and so just trying to salvage what we can," she said.

What was left from their home was able to fit into the trunk of their car.

"I guess our trunk load is all we got left."

But the Van Pelts said they were able to save what was important.

"I had pictures of my children and they didn't get destroyed," said VanPelt.

Steven VanPelt, Kathy's husband said he was grateful that Kathy escaped the flames.

"It's sad, but we're alive and that's all that matters, you can replace valuables, you can't replace lives," said Steven VanPelt.

The Red Cross and the couple's land lord are helping the family get by for now. In about two weeks, they plan to move to Montana.   

Meantime, the investigation is ongoing. It's still unknown what caused the fire, though officials said it started in the back of the house.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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