RICHFIELD, Utah — Following a devastating fire in Richfield left dozens of people without a home late Monday, the community is working to pick up the pieces.
Crews were called to the scene at Ville 647 at around 7:30 p.m. and were tasked with evacuating 35 families from the apartment building.
Sighler Crigler lived at the building and was evacuated. He was at a friend's house when he got word of what was happening.
"I got a call from my girlfriend saying there was a fire and she's trying to grab the baby and the dog," he said. "Ten to fifteen minutes later, I’m just barely getting there and there's fire coming out at the back end and everybody's separated on to each side of the building."
Investigators don’t have a cause for the fire, but say they don’t believe there was foul play. They have isolated the start of the fire to the east side of the main floor.
"That's really the miracle is no firemen or officers were hurt, and we got all the people out," said Richfield City Fire Chief Trent Lloyd.
Each of the families was put up for the night in various inns and motels throughout town, and the American Red Cross designated the Sevier County Fairgrounds as an evacuation site, where donations poured in from community members, including food, bedding, clothes, and baby supplies.
Lloyd added that the community really stepped up to make sure they could help their neighbors.
“That was the amazing thing — every phone call I made last night, 'Hey, I need this,' it was done. It didn’t matter, I called the school district for a bus, they said 'Yeah, we’ll have somebody there.' Called somebody from the armory and said 'Hey, I need some cots, you got cots?' And they said, 'Yeah, we’ll work on it,' and they come back later with a whole bunch of cots,” explained Lloyd.
For the displaced families, Crigler says the apartment was more than just a home, but a chance at a better life.
“The whole Ville was a second chance for everybody who was there," he shared. "For recovering drug addicts, people that were single mothers, people that had just gotten out of jail and were wanting to fix their lives. It was a good place for people who don’t have a place to go."
Crigler said for him and his family, they are just taking one day at a time.
The building is considered a complete loss and not even safe for people to try and retrieve anything that may have withstood the flames.
“The whole third floor is gone, and the main floor is destroyed and the basement is full of water,” added Chief Lloyd.
Lloyd said the type of fire brought challenges they hadn’t dealt with before.
“What we’ve never had in the 27 years I’ve been here is a big fire with that many people to deal with,” said Lloyd.
Keith Warburton owns the property and says they are working tirelessly to help these families with whatever they need.
“A lot of these people are resilient, they’ve gone through hard things, they’re going through hard things again, but i think there’s going to be some good that comes from it for each person as they move forward. And I think those other chances will be provided for them,” said Warburton.