Headlines Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Community rallies around families displaced by fire
Erin Young / Box Elder News Journal
Firefighters used ladder trucks to try to contain flames that spread to the attic of an apartment complex at 600 North Main Street Monday night, and kept them there until Tuesday morning.
By Mike Nelson and Sean Hales
Residents and community leaders responded with an outpouring of support following a fire at the Twin Pines apartment complex in Brigham City Monday night that displaced several families from six units.
“It’s terrible,” said Brigham City Mayor-elect Tyler Vincent at the scene of the fire. “It [the fire] has put all these people out on the street.”
By Tuesday morning, however, it was clear that people were doing whatever they could to help the victims.
“We live in a great community that has rallied around those affected to help them in this time of need,” Vincent said.
A Box Elder News Journal breaking news post on Facebook about the fire Monday night generated a significant response from readers seeking to help.
The American Red Cross arrived on the scene of the fire last night and set up a reception center to assess people’s needs and to determine where a shelter might be set up. Others, offered their homes and a nearby church is reported to have opened their doors to those displaced by the fire.
“Brigham City, the fire department, and the community have really stepped up when it counted,” said Lewis Kline, American Red Cross disaster program manager for the Northern Utah area.
Kline and his team have set up a shelter at the Brigham City Emergency Service building, taking in 21 men, women and children at that location. As of Monday, officials are still working to determine the exact number of people displaced by the fire as some have been taken in elsewhere.
Initially, the Red Cross is prepared to supply food, clothing and shelter for the first 72 hours but Kline says they are in it for the long haul.
“It’s hard to say how long we’ll be needed,” said Kline. “It all depends on the efforts in the community but we’ll be here as long as it takes.”
Kline asked local restaurants and churches to help provide meals for those at the emergency services building.
With many of the displaced residents effected by the Twin Pines apartment complex fire speaking only Spanish, those assisting in the efforts say the language barrier has been difficult to overcome. The Red Cross is looking for interpreters to assist them and of particular importance would be bi-lingual professionals from the medical and mental health fields.
Donations of essential items are being accepted at the Brigham City Community Center, 24 North 300 West. Winter clothing—ranging in sizes from two months to adult men and women—blankets, and toiletries, and other essential household items are requested.
“Everything helps,” said Kristy Law, Brigham City’s community activities and services manager. “These people have lost everything.”
According to Law, Deseret Industries agreed to open their doors to the victims to provide them with a change of clothes. Additionally, Law said a woman is pulling her neighborhood together to assemble hygiene kits to distribute to them as well.
Michael McCullam, manager of the Box Elder County office of Bear River Association of Governments, said Tuesday afternoon that his office will join the effort by working to help relocate those displaced by the fire. According to sources, BRAG has several pots of money to draw from, both for single individuals and families.
Several of the families have young children, such as resident Sammi Apodaca, who said Monday night that they had almost nothing left but the clothes on their backs.
“That was our home,” said Apodoca, who had slipped on a pair of her husband’s shoes in her hurry to get out of the apartment, “we had everything there. We had our Christmas presents and clothes in there...it was all in our closet in the bedroom, now it’s gone.”
Apodaca said she was luckier than most residents, however, as she had family locally with whom she could stay, if needed.
Oswaldo Herrera, who lives in the complex, but whose unit was not affected by the fire, said, “That’s what the problem is right now; where are they going to stay? Maybe tonight I’ll let somebody borrow my apartment. I’ll go stay with my uncle. I feel bad for these people.”
Herrera, along with some other residents, went door-to-door at the complex, warning people about the fire and helping them get out, sometimes returning to help residents get some of their important items from their apartments.
According to Brigham City Emergency Services Director Jim Buchanan, the fire department was notified at about 7:30 p.m. Monday night that a mattress had caught on fire in apartment 3A. Fire fighting crews from Willard, Corinne, and Honeyville also responded to help fight the blaze.
Buchanan said because of the construction of the building, which was built before building codes required fire breaks, the fire spread rapidly once it reached the attic, and complicated fire fighting efforts.
“Once it got up there it was off to the races,” said Buchanan. “It just raced unabated down the joists.”
Buchanan said crews were released from the scene at 6:15 a.m., Tuesday morning. Due to the construction, crews were unable to get underneath the roof where there were hotspots and a wind that picked up after midnight caused flareups that had to be doused. According to Buchanan, the building was likely built as part of the Bushnell Army Hospital complex between 1944-1945.
As of Tuesday morning, the investigation was ongoing, but evidence seemed to indicate that a space heater could have been the cause. However, investigators were unable to get into the unit where the fire started due to safety concerns. Power and gas crews were working Tuesday to restore power and gas to units not effected by the fire, which would allow residents of those units to return.
The fire destroyed eight units, with two additional units receiving smoke and water damage. Structural damage to the complex was estimated at $250,000, with an additional estimated $75,000-$100,000 in personal property loss. According to the building’s owner, Gary Madsen, the entire complex is valued at $400,000.
Anyone interested in donating goods or providing other services should contact the Kristi Law at 435-230-0725, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bringing the bacon to Brigham City
Nature Food Products—the company behind the project formerly known to Box Elder County’s economic development office as Project Sam—has signaled their intent to locate a pig processing plant in Brigham City and create more than 250 new jobs.
Eyeing a 15-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Watery Lane and West Forest Street, Michael Lau, spokesman for NFP, will brief Brigham City council members and employees during a work session tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 p.m., prior to the regularly scheduled city council meeting.
“The expansion into Utah shows the great strengths that Utah possesses not only in location, but also in infrastructure and workforce,” said Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
With an initial investment of around $20 million to construct a new, state-of-the-art facility, NFP will seek to create around 120 new jobs over the first three years, growing to a total of at least 260 jobs thereafter. The average wages are projected to be $35,000, slightly more than the current county average.
“Contrary to what some may think, they’re not all low-paying jobs,” said Brigham City’s economic development director, Paul Larsen, noting that roughly one quarter of the new jobs will be salary positions in management, marketing and public relations.
Understanding the Affordable Care Act
Christine Conrado, certified application counselor, will be on-hand at Brigham City Public Library at 7 p.m., on Tuesday, Dec. 10, to walk people through understanding and applying for health insurance under the new Affordable Care Act.
The event is free. For more information contact Susan Behring at 435-723-5850 or email email@example.com.
Don’t let holiday celebrations end in tragedy
The following is a public announcement from the Bear River Health Department.
For many, the “most wonderful time of the year” is filled with celebrations and time with family and friends. But all too often, drivers get wrapped up in the excitement of the holidays and forget how dangerous it can be if they don’t put the party behind them before getting behind the wheel.
The Bear River Health Department reminds people that buzzed driving is drunk driving, and admonishes people never to get behind the wheel after drinking.
“Whether you’ve had one or one too many, hand the keys to a non-drinking driver,” said Allena Pierce, Health Educator at the Bear River Health Department. “Drinking and driving creates an extreme risk to your safety and the safety of others on the road around you.”
Some steps to ensure your holiday celebrations don’t end in tragedy:
· Designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin. Plan a way to get home safely at the end of the night.
· If you are the host, provide plenty of non-alcoholic drink options.
· If you are impaired, call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
· Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.
· If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.
Don’t create the next statistic. In 2012, there were 12,500 arrests made in Utah for driving under the influence. Thirty-nine people died in Utah in 2011 due to impaired driving. The best way to ensure your safety is to be responsible, plan ahead, and always remember to wear your seat belt.
For more information on Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, please visit www.TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov or call the Bear River Health Department at (435) 792-6510.
Volunteers needed for tax-aide program
The AARP Tax-Aide program is recruiting Utah volunteers from Tremonton to St. George to help neighbors and other community members to prepare and electronically file their annual income tax returns.
Tax-Aide volunteers provide free tax help to low-to-moderate income taxpayers with special attention to those age 60 or older.
Volunteers are needed to electronically prepare both federal and State of Utah tax returns, to greet people, maintain computers and associated equipment, manage the workflow and volunteers and occasionally act as a translator for non-English speakers.
Training will be offered soon, beginning in December and January. Tax law instruction and training materials will be provided at no cost. Volunteers are asked upon completion of training, to volunteer three to four hours a week at a near-by site during the tax season.
Free tax help sites open to the public beginning in February and operate through tax day, Tuesday, April 15, 2014.
For additional program information or to register as a Tax-Aide volunteer, please contact Jack Dahl, 801-930-8449 or better still, email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is not necessary to be a member of AARP to be a Tax-Aide volunteer.
Nominations sought for chamber banquet
Planning for the Brigham City Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet is underway and is set to be held Friday, Jan. 17 and the chamber is accepting nominations for the several awards given at the dinner.
Nominations from chamber members will look to identify the business person of the year, businesses of the year, and total citizen of the year.
Nominations should be a brief paragraph consisting of 3-5 sentences. For more information or to submit a nomination, email email@example.com or call 435-723-3931.