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Community unites to repair Phoenix woman’s home after fire

(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — A community-driven effort has been dedicated to making a Phoenix woman’s home livable again after it was damaged in a fire months ago.

In October, Mary Chavez’s home near 59th avenue and Thomas caught fire shortly after she hired an unlicensed contractor. Her home had no electricity, and damage remained in her ceiling until April.

That’s when the Phoenix Planning and Development Department stepped in, creating the “Helping Mary” project for the current Building Safety Month.

Inspections field supervisor Don Councilor has led the project in effort to restore the home through a community effort.

“I just wanted to unite the community with licensed builders and contractors, uniting them together to help one individual rise up out of her ashes,” Councilor said Thursday.

In early May, the damaged home was assessed for needed repairs. In addition to addressing the fire damage, Gable Family Builders and LeBlanc Building Co. Inc. crews decided the full roof would need to be replaced.

By mid-May, power was restored and a portable air conditioner was installed by Commercial Comm Electrical.

Inspectors used the city’s permit by inspector program to expedite some of the work, allowing for the plan review and inspections to be conducted on-site.

Workers have steadily made progress at Mary’s home.

A new slab for the water heater, the origin site of the fire, was created by Vargas and Sons Concrete Specialists LLC.

Top Onyx Premiere Granite and Fabrication redid the tile in her shower, while the Gable Family Builders continues to work on the roof repairs.

“No money is exchanging hands; this is strictly donations and a labor of love,” Councilor said. “We’ve got contractors that are stepping up. We’ve even got contractors that are competitors that are helping each other out.”

Their goal is to have the project complete by the end of June.

“It’s very, very exciting, it’s great,” Mary said. “I’m so glad that people were able to do this for me because I don’t believe I could have done it all myself.”

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