Family remembers man who died in Kearns house fire

Dec 20, 2023, 7:06 PM | Updated: 11:33 pm

KEARNS — The Unified Police Department is investigating a Kearns house fire last weekend that resulted in the death of an elderly man.

The fire occurred Saturday night in the area of 4200 West, 5616 South.

Cause of death still being determined

Police are also waiting for autopsy results to determine how 76-year-old Terry Leavitt died.

In the meantime, his family is mourning his loss. Pictures from Leavitt’s military service in Vietnam are some of the few belongings, his younger brother Kaven Leavitt salvaged from his home.

“Everything melted there (in the front room) and I guess he made it to the door,” Kaven Leavitt said.

He thinks his brother tried to escape through the front of the house, his body was found just a few inches from the door.

“I think he was standing up and the smoke came and (he) basically fell in the chair,” Kaven Leavitt said. “That’s where he more or less passed out and then died.”

Background on the victim

He said Terry Leavitt was found by firefighters in a wooden chair next to the door. Kaven Leavitt says it was a family member driving past Terry Leavitt’s house, who alerted emergency personnel of the fire.

“I think the fire started in the back, in the kitchen,” he said.

According to Kaven Leavitt, his brother’s furnace gave out around Thanksgiving. He had three portable space heaters, but the cause of the fire remains unclear. Terry Leavitt had suffered a stroke a few years ago. He had lost much of his mobility which may have played a part in his inability to escape.

“It’s a very tough time, I can only imagine for them,” said Sgt. Aymee Race, public information officer for Unified Police.

While Unified Police Department continues its investigation, authorities say you can never be too vigilant.

“Let’s all band together and get out there and check on your elderly, make sure they have the proper equipment to stay warm,” Race said. “If they have space heaters make sure they function correctly and that there isn’t anything blocking those space heaters.”

Terry Leavitt who died in a house fire is being remembered by family for his service to the country. (KSL TV)

Terry Leavitt’s family is preparing for his funeral.

“That’s the problem I’ve got right now is coming up with the money to bury him,” Kaven Leavitt said.

His family will remember him for his love of fixing old cars and his service to his country.

“He was a good guy,” said Kaven Leavitt. “And so yeah, I will miss him. It’s hard.”

For information on Utah’s Home Energy Assistance Target (HEAT) Program, click here.

For information on carbon monoxide safety, click here.

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Family remembers man who died in Kearns house fire