Orem House Fire
Orem family who lost daughter to swine flu loses house to fire
Story Discussion Janice Peterson - Daily Herald | Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 3:45 pm | No Comments Posted
OREM -- A family of seven was displaced Wednesday after their home caught fire in Orem.
Rick Kuester said he and his wife were working as crossing guards, helping kindergarteners to cross to and from Cherry Hill Elementary when they received a call saying their house was on fire.
"We got here, and smoke's coming out the windows," he said.
The year has not been an easy one for the family. The Kuester's 9-year-old daughter died in October from complications of swine flu. Kuester said his daughter sometimes had seizures when she was ill, and she had a seizure when she was sick with the swine flu and suffocated. The tragedy only adds to the hardship for the five remaining children, ages 4 through 16.
"They're pretty distraught," he said.
Two of the Kuesters' children were sleeping in the front room of the home near Orem Boulevard on 800 South when the fire started around noon. Kuester said his 13- and 4-year-old daughters were the only people in the home at the time.
"They woke up and the front room was full of smoke, so they ran outside," he said.
The children ran next door to their grandparents' home and called for help, and a passerby called police at the same time. Orem fire Capt. Robbie Asbell said firefighters were just down the street at the time and responded very quickly, arriving to find heavy smoke and fire coming from the home.
Asbell said the fire began in a bedroom in the southwest corner of the home and spread throughout the top floor. Fire investigators are currently trying to determine what happened.
"We're not sure exactly what started the fire," he said.
The fire was extinguished at about 12:45 p.m., leaving behind about $125,000 in damage. Asbell said he was not sure whether the home could be restored, but there is heavy smoke and fire damage and burned trusses in the roof.
Holding his 4-year-old daughter in his arms, Kuester said his children who were in the home when the fire started were having a hard time with the incident.
"It took her awhile to start talking to me," he said of the 4-year-old.
Kuester said he does not know what happened to start the fire, but there may have been a problem with an electrical outlet. There was an outlet he had problems with in the past, but never issues serious enough to be concerned about, he said.
The American Red Cross will be placing the family in a hotel for a few days and providing financial assistance for clothing, said emergency services director Brett Cross. They also received immediate essentials such as shampoo, shaving cream and medications. Cross said the Red Cross also set the family up to meet with disaster mental health professionals in the area due to the family's hardships throughout the past year