ROY — Residents of a 12-unit apartment building shed many tears Monday evening as they watched their homes go up in flames.
The two-alarm blaze at the Herfordshire Apartments, 4642 S. 1900 West, was reported by Roy Police Sgt. Danny Hammon as starting at 4:14 p.m.
Residents said the fire spread quickly, giving them very little time to get their things and get out.
Jordan Leyba said she didn’t have time to grab her wedding dress, which she’d just brought home that day for her August wedding.
Tara Holley said she just took her 3 1/2-year-old son and what she had on her back.
Nica Gilmore said her father’s ashes and all that was left of her parents and a deceased brother remained inside.
“I can’t believe that the only thing I grabbed was the birds,” Gilmore’s husband, Kevin, said of the two parakeets he saved.
He had been the only one home at the time the fire started.
Leyba said she and her fiance, Jake Sanders, were resting, because they both had just gotten off work.
“We just thought the neighbors were being loud and annoying,” Leyba said.
When Sanders looked out the window, he could see on the ground the shadow of the flames jetting out of the roof, he said.
The two left their apartment thinking the fire was somewhere else.
Soon realizing their building was on fire, they returned to grab her purse and her shoes before leaving, Leyba said.
After firefighters had worked for about two hours, residents on the ground floor had a chance to return and get a very few of their possessions, with officials warning them to get only what definitely could not be replaced.
Roy City Fire Chief Jon Ritchie told them the ground floor of the building would be flooded before firefighters were done.
Hammon said all residents had been contacted and no one was injured in the blaze.
One resident had to be taken to the emergency room when she tripped getting out of the building.
“One gal fell coming out,” Hammon said. “She hit her chin. That was not due to the fire.”
Neighbors celebrated when firefighters found that resident’s dog, a boxer named Luna, two hours after the blaze began.
As night fell, officials were instructing fence company representatives to put a barrier around the building as security.
Holley was touting her friend, Kelsey Cook, as her personal hero.
Cook works across the street at a Farmers Insurance office.
When Cook saw smoke coming from the apartment complex, she ran across the busy street to warn her friend.
“Cars were honking at me,” Cook said.
She ripped her pants and at one point got her leg stuck between bricks as she dived down to her friend’s patio so she could knock on the door.
“I’m sure my feet are black,” said the barefooted Cook, who said she knew she wasn’t going to be able to run across the street in the high heels she wore to work.
Holley said she and her young son were both asleep at the time and were awakened by Cook’s warning.
Also asleep at the time of the blaze was Whitney Berchtold.
She said she was awakened after an hour of sleep by the smell of smoke.
“God was definitely there with me,” she said.
Berchtold said she at first thought the neighbors were barbecuing, and then she heard noises that made her think her barbecue equipment had been blown over.
When she awoke, she saw smoke in her kitchen and living room and went out on her balcony.
“I went out, and I could see smoke and flames,” she said.
A disaster action team from the Northern Utah Chapter of the American Red Cross also responded to the scene.
The team was handing out treats and drinks to families that were affected as well as to emergency responders.
Officials discussed opening North Park Elementary School as an emergency shelter and called in a representative from Weber School District to discuss the matter.
The Red Cross reported more than 20 people displaced by the fire.
Officials were not sure of the cause of the fire but were busy investigating the incident.
Police were on scene interviewing the apartment residents about what they saw and heard.
At one point, police took Sanders and Leyba to the police station to retrieve photos and video of the blaze the two had shot with her phone.
Agencies responding included Roy, Riverdale, South Ogden, Ogden and Weber Fire District.