Salt Lake City family suffers tragic death days after house fire

Mar 19, 2024, 7:23 AM | Updated: Mar 20, 2024, 11:42 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A family is sharing their heartache after a chain of terrible events in just a matter of days. First, it was a house fire that they believed played a role in the next tragedy.
For Sasha Lunt’s extended family, a house on 500 South has been home for nearly 60 years.

It’s the home where her mother grew up, along with her aunt and uncles. Her father grew up just across the street.

All of the family’s heirlooms have been kept within those walls.

But now all of that history is gone.

“My uncle was a war veteran. When he returned home from the war, he was murdered, unfortunately, and we lost his American flag and everything that we owned for him,” she explained.

The family home, where Lunt’s aunt and two uncles lived, caught fire in the middle of the night on March 8. She said her uncles and aunt escaped, but their four cats did not.

Lunt said the fire appears to have started from an electrical issue on the back porch.

The flames spread to the neighbor’s home, causing two people to flee from inside. Everyone survived, but everything was destroyed.

The back of Sasha Lunt’s family home after it caught fire on March 8. (Photo courtesy: Sasha Lunt)

For Lunt and her family, was tragic enough. Then just days later, her father found one of Lunt’s uncles dead in the hotel room he had been staying in while displaced from the fire.

She explained that Rick Collins had just been released after being hospitalized from the fire.

“We believe it was some heart condition that we weren’t fully aware of, and we were made aware of while he was hospitalized,” Lunt said. “He passed away two days after being released from the hospital.”

Lunt believes the fire potentially made Uncle Rick’s heart condition worse.

She said they spent Monday at the mortuary, where her 5-year-old nephew Cory — Rick’s best bud — said goodbye to his favorite family member.

They have to explain to Cory why Uncle Rick is no longer here, and why they can’t go to Uncle Rick’s house.

Rick Collins in the hospital being visited by Lunt’s nephew, Cory. (Photo courtesy: Sasha Lunt)

“This has been probably the hardest time of our lives,” Lunt said. “I would say there’s no way for a family to plan for, first of all, a fire, and then a death of a family member.”

She said their other uncle had to go to the hospital last week, also with health complications they believe were made worse by the fire.

They’re hoping he’ll be OK, as they try to figure out what’s next.

“Now it’s just getting through the death, and figuring out what to do going forward,” Lunt said.

She said the Red Cross has been helping the family, and that homeowner’s insurance is covering some things but not everything — including the death of Collins. A family friend started a GoFundMe* to help with funeral, medical, and fire recovery costs.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Salt Lake City family suffers tragic death days after house fire