Midvale residents recount chaotic moments after apartments catch fire; fireworks suspected to be the cause

Posted at 9:44 PM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-05 23:49:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- It was one of the busiest Fourth of July holidays fire crews in Utah have seen.

“There were moments last night when there could have been six, eight or even 10 field fires happening simultaneously around the valley,” said Eric Holmes of the Unified Fire Authority.

A fire in Cottonwood Heights tore through a grass field and flames raced toward a nearby neighborhood. Fire crews are confident a firework is what sparked it. That was the culprit of most of the flames across the state Tuesday night, and it was a similar devastating story in Midvale.

“Around 12:30 the neighbor came and was banging on our door because our balcony was on fire,” said Allie Brosten. “We had no idea; had he not woken us up we wouldn't have known.”

Allie and Jerry Rivera stood outside watching helplessly as their apartment went up in flames. Their cat stranded inside.

“It's just a moment of awe because you see everything you built in your life for however long just disappear,” Rivera said.

Those who live at the Chelsea Park Apartments believe the flame was sparked by a firework.

“It went from being a small part of our balcony to, as soon as we stepped outside another five ten minutes, it was engulfed everywhere the whole side of the building," Rivera said.

Smoke and flames carried to the next building.

“I was trying to yell as loud as I could as everyone was getting out to get out of their apartments, cause the smoke was just billowing through there,” said Andrew Rosenberg.

Andrew had to rush inside to get his 6-year-old daughter.

“I just ran back as fast as I could; she was sitting there screaming at me, I just see smoke,” Andrew said. “I just grabbed her and got as low as I could and ran out.”

When he got out he watched as a man jumped from the third story window while another man tried to catch him.

Some say it took firefighters a while to get there. The fire marshal's office says some crews across the state were delayed because of how many fires were going on.

“I foresee possibly more restrictions put in place for the 24th, but that's yet to be seen,” said Holmes of the upcoming Pioneer Day celebrations and their accompanying fireworks displays.

Restrictions Allie and Jerry hope to see.

“We just lost everything, and we just want to tell people if you do fireworks: just please be responsible," Allie said. "You can change someone’s life in a matter of minutes. Our whole world has just been rocked."

Loved ones have createda GoFundMe page to assist Allie with expenses after the fire.