LOCAL NEWS

Draper House Fire Leaves One Woman Dead, One Boy Injured

Jul 23, 2019, 5:44 AM | Updated: 8:10 pm

DRAPER, Utah – An early-morning house fire in Draper sent a young boy to the hospital and took the life of his grandma on Tuesday.

“(It’s) horrible – horrible to know you were there and the house was on fire, and you know somebody was still in there and you couldn’t get to them,” long-time friend and neighbor Jenny Orgill said. “It hasn’t hit them, for real, that she’s gone.”

The fire department identified the woman who died as 61-year-old Shelly O’Meara. An autopsy was being completed to determine the exact cause of death.

Orgill heard the sirens from police and firefighters race through her neighborhood sometime before 1 a.m. She ran outside to see the log home she’s visited countless times up in flames.

“It was lit up,” she said. “I mean it was lit up.”

“This was really challenging right from the start,” Draper Fire Chief Clint Smith said.

He said the difficult response began on the way to the fire when first responders had to make a detour around construction on 13800 South. That was followed by a hunt for the nearest fire hydrant and then finding the two-story home on fire down a narrow dirt road.

And then firefighters heard “there was concern that there may be one still unaccounted for,” Smith said.

Crews quickly determined there were five people at the home when the fire started: a mom, dad and their two children who all made it out alive. But their 6-year-old son was hurt and needed help and his grandmother was still missing.

“Horrible, horrible, horrible to hear a 6-year-old in so much pain from burns,” Orgill said, adding that it’s “nothing anybody can ever forget.”

But Orgill will also likely never forget her friend, the boy’s grandmother who died, and whose initial screams Orgill said alerted the rest of the family to get out of the house when the fire started.

“She saved their lives,” Orgill said. “If she would not have woken up and yelled for them. That fire spread so fast being a log cabin, and they would not have made it. I don’t believe they would have made it out.”

The 6-year-old suffered burns and inhalation injuries and was transported by helicopter to the University of Utah burn center.

A police officer and a firefighter had to be transported to Lone Peak hospital due to heat exhaustion and overexertion. Both have since been released.

“As you can tell, we’ve had some very high temperatures,” Smith said. “It’s just not cooling off very much at night.”

The home is located about 1,000 feet down a dirt lane off a road that’s under construction, authorities said. This made it difficult to access the site and secure a water supply. Smith said the fact that it was a log home made it even more difficult to battle the blaze.

He added the weather also impeded firefighting efforts.

“We have this high pressure that’s sitting over us that doesn’t allow for the smoke really to escape the area very well,” he said. “It just hampered the efforts of those first-arriving police officers.”

Smith said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

KSL TV’s Ladd Egan and Alexis Pineiro contributed to this report.

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Draper House Fire Leaves One Woman Dead, One Boy Injured