‘Ashes and memories—that’s it.’ Brookfield fire victims get up close look at devastation; donation efforts underway

Brookfield’s fire chief told News 12 one person and one police officer both went to the hospital for smoke inhalation but were released.

Marissa Alter

Apr 26, 2024, 10:48 PM

Updated 30 days ago


People who escaped from their burning condos in Brookfield returned to see the devastation up close on Friday.
“It's heartbreaking, you know? Everything you worked hard for—it’s gone. Ashes and memories,” said Ricky Brandon about his unit.
Brandon’s condo was one of 12 destroyed after a fire ripped through part of the Ledgewood Condominium complex on Boxwood Drive early Thursday morning.
“There's nothing in there. All you can see metal stuff remaining. You can't even pinpoint anything. It doesn't look like a home. A place we once called home is not home anymore,” Brandon told News 12.
Parts of the scene looked more like a war zone, with burned out cars and rubble—a far cry from a place residents described as peaceful and beautiful.
Brandon said around 1:20 a.m. Thursday, the family dog started barking, waking up him, his wife and their two kids.
“We didn't know what was going on, and we just see a glowing out our bedroom window. And when we stuck our head out the window, we could see our neighbor’s porch was on fire,” Brandon recalled.
He said his wife got the kids out, then both of them banged on some neighbors’ doors to make sure they evacuated, too.
“We made it out of there safely—everyone did—you know, through the luck of God,” Brandon stated.
Perhaps that’s the most remarkable thing when you look at the damage—that all residents and their pets survived.
Brookfield’s fire chief told News 12 one person and one police officer both went to the hospital for smoke inhalation but were released. He said the officer was one of several first responders who helped get everyone out. Brandon said several people who live there are senior citizens.
On Friday, restoration crews were on scene to close off the area, putting up a fence and latching it. Traces of debris could still be found outside the fence, including charred pages of a book, symbolic of the new chapter Brandon and his neighbors now have to begin.
“Usually when you rebuild, you at least have something. But rebuilding with nothing is going to be tough,” Brandon said.
Among the devastation, an American flag remained untouched, maybe a sign of hope for the future. A fundraising effort is underway to help Brandon and his family figure out what’s next.
“Where we going to live? How we going to manage? How we going to get by? You know, just one day at a time,” he told News 12.
A Brookfield business is also having a donation drive to try for victims of the fire. Twins BBQ Co. is collecting new items and gift cards at 401 Federal Road on April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Specific needs for one family include: T-shirts, socks, underwear (size L men and women, size M women and size 7/8 boys), along with hair products for women and men. All families need toothpaste, detergent, dryer sheets, soap, cleaning wipes, towels and linens. Gift card suggestions include: Shoprite, Target, Walmart, Petco, CVS, Walgreens, Best Buy, HomeGoods, AMC Theatres, The Cave and local restaurants.
The fire marshal said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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