One Saved in Orem House Fire
OREM — A contractor working nearby may have saved the life of an 80-year old woman whose house caught on fire Wednesday evening.
Anthony Blanco was working across the street about 4:30 p.m. when he noticed smoke coming from the roof of the house at 338 N. 985 West. After seeing the smoke, he instructed a friend to call 911 and then ran over to the house where he knew an elderly woman lived alone.
When he got to the front door she had already began to open it and he told her she needed to leave. The woman hesitated, and as he looked into the house he noticed flames and could see paint melting from the ceiling and told her she needed to get out at that moment.
"It worked out well because I think she would have gone back in," Blanco said, downplaying his role as rescuer.
Within minutes of the woman leaving, the entire home was engulfed, Blanco said.
Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards said by the time fire crews arrived they couldn't enter the home, and it was a "surround and drown" situation. Even an hour and a half later, crews were still putting out fires in the attic.
Edwards said the woman was not injured but was quite upset and had gotten close enough to the fire to singe her hair.
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Edwards praised the contractor and said without his help, it is likely the woman would have tried to go back in and could have died.
Neighbors gathered outside to watch the numerous fire trucks and firefighters pull down a plastic overhang and tear at the roof to get to the flames still in the attic.
Neighbor Melanie Shepherd said she has lived next to the woman since she was a child.
"She has been like a grandma to us," Shepherd said.
Neighbors believe the woman has lived in the house for more than 50 years.
The woman's daughter arrived on scene and planned to take her mother home with her that evening as the home is considered a total loss. The woman also had a boat that appeared to be destroyed as well.
Edwards said crews would remain on scene for a few hours to try and extinguish any remaining flames but they will most likely not identify a cause of the fire until Thursday.
Edwards said the woman in the house noticed flames near the kitchen hallway but she wasn't cooking anything and she doesn't know how it started.
The woman's daughter didn't want to release her mothers name until other family members were notified.