Skip to main content

Sandy Journal

Quick action at a Sandy fire means no fatalities, though six units now ‘unlivable’

Mar 31, 2023 11:23AM ● By Heather Lawrence

The view from 1300 East shows damaged units at a Sandy City apartment complex, where a fire broke out Mar. ch 5. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

A fire at the Liberty Heights apartment complex in Sandy on March 5 made several units unlivable. The fire at the three-story units, located at 8176 S. 1300 East, was reportedly set by a resident. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, thanks to a quick evacuation and the efforts of first responders and bystanders. 

News station ABC 4 reported the fire started at 2:51 a.m. The apartments are next door to Sandy Fire Station No. 35. First responders saw the smoke, called dispatch for backup and ran over to knock on doors and evacuate residents.  

Zulema Rubio was visiting a friend at the apartments and evacuated with the residents. However, she heard someone yell that an elderly man had not come out of his apartment yet. 

“There [were] flames coming out of the roof, flames coming out of the door. I came out the front…and saw smoke coming out of the window. It was so hot the glass started to break,” Rubio said in a television interview. 

Rubio banged on the elderly man’s door and realized it was unlocked, so she went in. She found him asleep in bed with his oxygen on. She woke him up and got him out. He was taken to the hospital because of difficulty breathing, but Rubio heard her “new friend” was expected to make a full recovery. 

Mayor Monica Zoltanski posted praise on her social media for the first responders. 

“The fire in Sandy City early this morning could have taken a very tragic toll. Six apartment units are uninhabitable after flames broke out after 3 a.m. Fortunately, a Sandy City Police Department officer spotted smoke while on duty and immediately began evacuations. 

“Sandy City Fire Department crews arrived quickly to assure everyone got out and extinguished the flames. I met with Police Chief Severson and Fire Chief Bassett today at the fire scene. Looking at how quickly the fire spread, it's amazing there were no serious injuries and no lives lost,” Zoltanski wrote. 

The apartments participate in a low-income housing tax credit program, meaning their rents are accessible to those with lower incomes. Those who secure low income housing can be most vulnerable to homelessness, but the Red Cross is helping Liberty Heights residents while their apartments are repaired. 

A resident of the complex was arrested for starting the fire. The 3rd District Court filing states Crystal Nicole Moss was charged with aggravated arson. Her booking affidavit states she “intentionally used a Bic lighter to ignite a tree of life” in her bedroom. 

The affidavit also says she “poured a bottle of alcohol on it to speed up the process.” She intended to use the fire to “burn away the negative energy, sadness and pain in her life.” 

The documents show that Moss also said she wanted to gain attention and have the incident “go viral.” Officers stated she was “incoherent” during her interview, and thought she showed evidence of “serious mental health issues.”