The evening of Sunday, Nov. 16, Shayli Sargent and Ben Larson were sitting at their home in Croydon working on homework with their three children ages 10, 7 and 5. When dark smoke filled the room, Ben went downstairs to check on the wood burning stove. The family realized that the smoke wasn’t just coming from the stove but that the house was actually on fire. When the realization that the house was on fire sunk in, the family panicked. Everything happened so fast, Shayli said on Monday morning remembering the night before. They started throwing water on the fire and they got the kids out of the house. According to the family, once they called 911, it seemed to take forever for emergency services to respond; however, Shayli acknowledged that it probably wasn’t that long, but minutes feel like hours when your house is on fire. As the crews arrived approximately 10 to 12 minutes after the 7:59 p.m. call, Ben and Shayli watched as the house they have lived in less than a year went up in flames. Family and friends gathered to observe and comfort Ben and Shayli as they watched 17 members of the Morgan Fire Department work with two fire engines, two brush trucks and a tender truck to put the fire out. The Mountain Green Fire Department joined with an engine, a brush truck, and seven fire fighters. Henefer Fire Department also brought seven fire fighters, an engine and a brush truck. Summit County Fire Department worked with their ladder truck, a rescue truck and two water tenders with their eight -person crew. Morgan County deputies were on hand, as well as an ambulance. When the first fire crews arrived, it took some time to lay lines to reach a hydrant in one of the more remote areas of our county. While some of the firefighters worked on the lines, others started pumping water from trucks. All of them were extremely cold and unpleasant from the very beginning with temperatures dipping down to 10 degrees. Fire Chief Dave Rich announced that while the fire was not extinguished, it was not causing any more property damage at 9:41 p.m. Rich and three other men stayed to work on the fire and didn’t return to the fire station until after midnight. After only a few hours of sleep they were called out again to the house a 5:40 a.m. A deputy checked on the property and found that the fire had rekindled and flames were again burning the roof. Two engines and a brush truck quickly extinguished the morning fire. Even with this extensive network laboring diligently to put out the fire, the flames, water and smoke took its toll on the house and everything inside. Very few things were salvageable. Luckily, some cherished photographs and some new blankets were saved. Ben particularly wanted to thank the fire departments fast action. He was impressed and grateful how fast and how well they did it. Before the fire was even extinguished caring friends and neighbors had already began to donate items. When Ben and Shayli went to Shayli’s parents for the evening, there was already a room full of clothing and other necessities people had dropped off. On Monday, state and local fire officials inspected the burned-out house. It was determined that the fire began after the area around the flue had caught fire. This can happen as the ignition point drops over time and eventually reaches a level below the temperature of the fire in the stove. This area can smolder before it ever begins to flame and is often the result of built-up creosote. Rich encourages everyone to clean their chimneys at least annually, preferably twice a year. This removes the creosote buildup and reduces the chances of the area catching on fire. He encourages anyone putting in a wood burning stove for the first time to work with a building inspector to ensure there is enough room or tile around the area. It’s been a crappy year, Shayli said. The last few weeks have been particularly taxing with deaths of loved ones. Particularly devastating was the tragic fatal tractor accident of one of her best friends’ five-year-old son, Brayden Townley. They have had something traumatic happen every week for the last six weeks. As word of the house fire spread like wildfire through the community, so did efforts to help the family. Longtime friend of Shayli’s, Randi Averett, quickly asked for help for her best friend. Even before knowing whose house was lost, community members rallied together to help gather clothes and necessities. It is an amazing feeling to see how our community comes together in a time of need whether they know the family or not, Averett said. Kindness doesn’t sleep when someone needs help in Morgan and by morning those collecting clothes for the children realized they actually had too much. Less than 24 hours after the fire took everything, the community had donated a full wardrobe for the family of five. Facebook groups Morgan Moms and Croydon Moms were a chatter on ways to help the family with meals, money and supplies. An account is set up at Devil’s Slide Credit Union as well as GoFundMe.com to help the family displaced by the fire. These accounts will help a ton with deductible and essentials such as food etc., explained Averett. Thank you for everything, Shayli said gratefully. I don’t know how to thank everyone. After going through this severe challenge Ben feels Morgan, Crodyon, Henefer and surrounding communities are the best places on earth to live. Everyone has been so amazing, he said genuinely. The family is grateful to Neil Maxwell’s Farmer’s Insurance office for their prompt assistance, and would like to thank Angi Carrigan specifically for her diligence in making sure their needs were met so quickly. To contribute money for the Larsen/Sargent family, visit Devil’s Slide Credit Union or http://www.gofundme.com/hdueu8.
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