Family treasures saved from apartment fire

By Alina Lambiet

VERO BEACH – All Brenda Erhart could think about as she watched her home of  three weeks burn down was that her most prized possessions – her only son’s baby pictures and baby blankets were inside.

It stung all the more because her boy, 28-year-old Joseph Frahm, is stationed in Lincoln, Neb., in the military. He is scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in May, June at the latest.

” He’s my only child,” she said, sobbing in the arms of her sister, Sherry. She lamented that her husband, still in Colorado, had driven down to Florida to bring her some cherished keepsakes.

She was so lonely, you see, in a new town. Unemployed for months in her town of Woodland Park, she had come to Vero to work with her sister Sherry. Now, she wondered, why, oh why, did she have him bring these treasures down?

Indian River firefighter Jeff Diggs, fresh from fighting the fire Thursday night at the Sand and Sun apartments where Erhart has been living, came by to ask her some questions about the apartment.

Erhart and her sister asked if they could go inside and find the steamer trunk containing pictures, and that oh-so delicate baby blanket.

“I can’t,” said Diggs. What if she were to get hurt?

Undeterred, the women pleaded. They are baby pictures. It’s a navy blue trunk. Her boy — he’ll be in Afghanistan soon. It’s all they cared about – that trunk.

Diggs agreed to go and check out her place. Which unit?

A few minutes later, he returned. “It’s there. There are bills on top of it. Not sure of water damage, but it’s still there.”

Could  they go in and get it? Diggs was having none of that.

Could he please bring it out? It’s so important. It’s her only child.

A few minutes later, Diggs was hauling a two-by-three steamer trunk on his shoulder.

“Oh, my God,” Erhart whispered.

She gently opened the trunk, and patted that 28-year-old blue and white gingham Raggedy Ann and Andy blanket.  It was safe. It was dry. And so were the pictured beneath it.

She turned to Diggs, thanked him again and again and again.

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