Investigation into fire at 27,000-square-foot Orem home could take days, firefighters say

Dec 27, 2023, 10:02 PM | Updated: Dec 28, 2023, 6:19 am

OREM — Firefighters said the investigation into what caused a massive fire at a 27,000-square-foot mansion could take up to days as they proceeded cautiously at the property on Wednesday afternoon.

According to assistant Orem Fire Chief Shaun Hirst, areas of the home located at 479 E. 1450 North were still smoldering and it was likely going to be a while before crews could take a closer look at how exactly the fire began.

“We’re working right now to get that water out of the structure, get the structure stabilized, and then we have to go through all that material to try to get some answers,” Hirst said.

The fire drew attention from blocks away Tuesday evening as crews from three cities rushed to combat the blaze. Hirst said fighting a fire on that scale was rare in the city.

“It’s 10 times the size of a normal house,” Hirst said. “This is like fighting a commercial building is what this was for us.”

He said the home was more like two framed structures with a residential facade, but a pool and some kind of tennis court on the inside. Firefighters did not say whether or not they considered the fire at the unoccupied home suspicious.

“Anytime you have a home (fire) that moves very fast and is not occupied, you have to question it,” Hirst said. “So, yeah, we’re just taking the steps to see what we can determine and rule it out or rule that it is.”

He said firefighters did not know who owned the property and that there was a realtor’s sign out in front when they arrived. A search of Utah County property records showed the home was owned by Dickson Properties LLC, which connected back to Tom Dickson, founder of Blendtec.

“It was scary,” Tauni Merrell said of the fire. She watched the blaze from her deck blocks away.

“It was so big — about 100 feet in the air,” Merrell said. “It was flames everywhere and it spread in all directions.”

Like other neighbors who spoke to KSL TV, she also said the home had been unoccupied and apparently under construction for quite some time.

“I know it’s been vacant for years,” Merrell said. “I just hope they had good insurance. They’re going to need it.”

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Investigation into fire at 27,000-square-foot Orem home could take days, firefighters say