Students escape house fire in Provo; fire crews stress caution during holidays

Nov 17, 2022, 1:11 PM | Updated: 2:13 pm

PROVO, Utah —  Firefighters responded to house fires in Salt Lake and Utah counties Thursday morning, including one that initially trapped some Brigham Young University students.

There was yellow tape up from a fire that burned the back side of a home in the area of 200 North and 800 East in Provo.

Sophi Cook was inside the home when the fire broke out.

“I heard loud popping noises and looked under my door and saw orange,” said Cook.

Aaron Larson, a next-door neighbor, also saw the flames.

Residents displaced after 2-alarm fires in SLC, Provo

“Ran over to the house and was banging on the front door,” said Larson.

The residents included three girls rooming upstairs and three guys rooming downstairs.

Neighbors said they are students at BYU. The girls got out, but the guys were initially trapped.

With the initial report coming in that people were trapped, Provo Fire Battalion Chief Tommy Torgersen said, “It changes the dynamics of what we do first.”

“Gotta bust through the window if you can’t get it open… ran back to the house and got a hammer,” said Larson.

Provo Fire & Rescue, which had called in a second alarm, was able to bring in more help and hands.

The guys found another safe way out.

The fire was contained to the back side of the home. The porch is a total loss, along with the kitchen in the back.

Cook, who lives in the home, lost her car to the fire.

“Total loss,” said Torgersen.

Damage done, including Cook’s car, while easier to see during the daytime, was no easier to take in.

“At the end of the day, stuff is stuff. Our lives are more important than the stuff that we have. Super eye-opening, just to realize that your life could end in a second. It really could,” Cook said. “You never know when something like that’s gonna happen to you.”

That’s why Capt. Sam Armstrong with Provo Fire & Rescue said there are steps to take to minimize the chances that a fire breaks out in the first place, and spreads.

He said one way to do that includes keeping the home clutter free of boxes and papers, especially where a heater or water heater is nearby.

“That first creates things that will burn. It creates a fuel. Secondly, it just makes it so it’s harder to move through your home,” Armstrong said.

“‘Tis the season for holiday decorations, which can lend itself to fire hazards. Christmas lights, Christmas trees, make sure that they are appropriately plugged in, they don’t have significant stacks of extension cords,” Armstrong said.

Provo firefighters said another thing all families should have in place is a designated meeting spot in the case of a fire or any time everyone needs to get out so there are no questions and everyone is accounted for.

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Students escape house fire in Provo; fire crews stress caution during holidays