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BRIGHAM CITY — An apartment fire consumed nearly everything eight families owned Monday night. But the community pulled together Tuesday to help those affected, many of whom are lower-income families.
Fire investigators believe the fire started in a mattress before quickly spreading to the roof and neighboring units at an apartment complex at 580 N. Main Street. Several apartment residents only had time to get out with the clothes they were wearing.
"(I) bawled my eyes out; watched my apartment go into flames," said Sammi Apodaca. "(Firefighters) kind of controlled the fire, and then all of a sudden it just went right back up."
Several displaced families spent the night in a shelter set up through the Red Cross of Utah. As some returned to the burnt complex to clear out their belongings Tuesday morning, others couldn't even get back inside their apartments.
Sammi Apodaca's apartment was boarded up over fears the roof might collapse. She said she thought everything inside was probably gone.
"It's the hardest part, to tell your children that ‘We gotta start over, bud,'" she said.
Christina Apodaca, Sammi's aunt, came to see what was left of the apartment.
"It's not me, but I'm just as devastated as they are that they lost everything, what little they owned," Christina Apocada said. "It's pretty sad."
Many people in this relatively small community were also reaching out to those families. Donations poured in at the local senior center, and volunteers spent the day busy organizing them.
Although she lost nearly everything, Sammie Apocada said she stayed up all night trying to get supplies, even helping buy food for her neighbors.
"I have a 4-year-old, and I don't want to see him go to bed on an empty stomach. So why should I let my neighbors' children, that we see grow up every day for the past year, go to bed with an empty stomach?" she said.
She said a friend is also organizing a fundraiser for the families affected.
While eight of the units were damaged, firefighters had to cut utilities to all 11 apartments in the building Monday night, essentially displacing all of the families, at least temporarily.
A cause for the fire had not been determined Tuesday.
Contributing: Jordan Ormond