SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – A woman who was visiting her friend in Sandy witnessed the apartment complex fire firsthand and joined officers in knocking on doors to rescue residents.
Zulema Rubio, who was visiting a friend who lives in the Liberty Heights Apartment complex, stated that she smelled something burning while in her friend’s living room early Sunday morning, Mar. 5.
Stepping outside to find the source of the smell, she was met with smoke and the sound of shattering glass from a window in an upstairs apartment.
“That whole thing just, in flames,” Rubio said. “There were flames coming out of the roof, there were flames coming out of the windows, out of the door.”
According to the Sandy Fire Department, smoke was spotted by authorities coming from the apartment building just before 3 a.m.
The fire department and police departments went door to door knocking to wake up residents who were still inside the burning building. And Rubio joined them.
“There was an officer here already and she was yelling in the apartments, especially that one cause nobody would answer the door,” Rubio said.
Rubio then said she immediately jumped into action and started banging on doors herself. During the commotion, she overheard someone yelling about an elderly man who lived in one of the apartments. She ran to the bottom apartment and began knocking on the door and yelling for the residents to evacuate. She then ran through the apartment searching for anyone inside.
“I turned the light on in one of the bedrooms and there was an older man lying there asleep with his oxygen on. He didn’t hear me yelling for him. He didn’t hear nothing.” Rubio said.
After grabbing the man’s shoes and coat, Rubio was able to get him outside and away from the burning building. However, it didn’t take her long to realize something wasn’t right.
“He complained about having a hard time breathing because there was a lot of smoke here and so we called the ambulance,” said Rubio. “The ambulance came and got him and took him to the hospital.”
Rubio did say that she later learned that the older man would be OK and would be able to return home.
“I could have easily walked home and left my car here because I just live right down the street. but I chose not to because I knew my friend needed me and I just couldn’t leave without knowing that my new friend was going to be OK.”
The fire affected 8 of the 12 apartments with four of them receiving the most damage. The fire also went through the attic and the roof, causing $750k in damage overall.
Everyone was evacuated leading to no deaths or severe injuries, however, one resident and two Sandy police officers are being treated for smoke inhalation and one firefighter received minor injuries.
At this time, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.