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Sandy neighbors work to help fire victims

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Dec 24th, 2012 @ 6:16pm

SANDY - Aluminum scraps and debris lay scattered on the front lawn of a Sandy duplex.

Fire burned the structure at 250 E. Julie Anna Drive Saturday afternoon, leaving two families homeless for the holidays and forcing one man to spend Christmas in the hospital.

Tyler Broberg remained in the University of Utah Burn Center Christmas Eve. Doctors say he's in good condition. He received third-degree burns on 30 percent of his back and the top of his head when he went back into his burning home to save his dog.

Neighbors are working to ensure that Broberg and his wife Ashley, along with other victims of the fire, are getting what they need.

"Tyler would just joke all the time," said September Hicks, who lives across the street. "Ashley was really sweet. She'd always bring little stuff to us."

The Hicks consider the Brobergs very good friends. That's why it's been an emotional weekend for Christy Hicks. She's concerned for her longtime friends since the fire broke out.

"Both of them ran out the door. Tyler had on a pair of pants. They cut them off at the hospital," said Hicks. "They have nothing."

Hicks said her family and others have set up an account at Mountain America Credit Union, hoping that donations will flow in to help the Brobergs. Andrew and Joanna Eresuma also have an account at America First Credit Union.

"We have seen gift cards, we have seen cash," said neighbor, Gloria Santa Cruz. "We're seeing furniture picked up tomorrow."

Cruz also said neighbors and strangers are organizing a concert at Fats Grill on Jan. 4 to raise money for the Brobergs.

"It's quite eye-opening how many people care who don't even know them," said Cruz. "Could it be the spirit of Christmas or the spirit of people?"

Investigators said the stove in a kitchen sparked the fire at the duplex. The owner, Bill Eresuma, said the house is a total loss and that it could take six months or longer to rebuild the duplex.

"It was an accident," said Eresuma. "That's called life, and you move on."

While some families are getting ready for Christmas, the Eresumas are trying to pick up the pieces of the charred mess inside and outside their charred house.

"We're just going to try to clean up some of Andrew's personal stuff and get it out here, wash it, get the smoke out," said Bill Eresuma. "It's just been devastating for everybody."

Andrew and Joanna Eresuma will stay with family until they can arrange for a permanent place. The reality of everything that's happened is just now starting to sink in.

"It's overwhelming to think of all the stuff we have to do. I have to work still," said Andrew. "Try to live my life like this didn't happen."

At this point he's more concerned for his neighbor, Tyler.

"To see that much compassion for just an animal, you know, kind of touches your heart," said Andrew. "He's the only one that got injured so he's the one that needs to be thought of."

For now, neighbors hope that these two families will not only be able to start fresh but will recover from the emotional wounds left from the fire.

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