Firefighters battle Ogden blaze started by fireworks

Friday , July 25, 2014 - 6:30 PM

house fire

Contributed photo of house fire at 118 Childs Ave in Ogden on Thursday, July 24, 2014....

By LORETTA PARK Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN --- Within seconds after flames shot from the bushes, Liz Smedley knew she had to get her pets out of her home.

Smedley and her husband, Neil Smedley, who live at 118 N. Childs Ave., were lighting fireworks out on the street in front of their home Thursday night when everything went wrong. Crews were called to the scene at 10:11 p.m.

The Smedleys’ bushes, camping trailer and garage were fully engulfed in flames by the time Ogden Fire Department arrived, fire officials said. It also started several small grass fires in the area. 

"I knew within seconds we couldn’t get it under control and then I thought of my pets,“ Liz Smedley said as she cuddled her long-hair gray and white cat, Smoky, while giving him oxygen using a pet mask provided by the fire department.

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Fireworks from neighboring streets continued to blaze through the smoky sky while firefighters worked on hot spots on the Smedley property.

Smoky was the only pet the Smedleys and their neighbors could not find before fire crews arrived. Firefighters found the 12-year-old cat hiding inside the house and brought the cat out to Liz Smedley. 

"One of (the fireworks) blew up and then blew over and went into the bushes,“ Neil Smedley said about the firework that started the fire, which sent towering  columns of smoke into the night sky. 

Fire Battalion Chief Hal Van Meeteren said the first priority of the fire crews was to keep the fire from destroying the house. It took 20 to 25 minutes before the fire was under control. There were 17 firefighters at the scene. Firefighters from North View and Roy fire departments assisted. 

Van Meeteren said the biggest problem firefighters dealt with at the scene was onlookers who ”were jamming the street“  preventing fire crews from arriving in a timely manner. Some even climbed on a fence separating a parking lot of a shopping center from the property to get a better view, but were removed by Ogden police officers for safety reasons. 

Smedley said she is grateful to her neighbors who helped to get their cats, dogs, reptiles and birds out of their home.

The Smedleys and their pets will be staying with family and friends until their home is repaired. Fire officials said  on Friday the fire caused about $30,000 worth of damages. 

The Smedleys have always lit fireworks for the Fourth of July and for the 24th of July, their neighbor, Lenore Moser said. 

This year Moser and her husband had gone to a hill in North Ogden to watch the fireworks. Her daughter called her and told her a house was on fire on their street. 

"I’ve lived next door to (the Smedleys) for the past 12 years and this is the first time there’s been a problem,” Moser said. 

Vic Saunders, who lives in the area, had gone to the LDS church house which is across the street from the Smedleys’ home to check on it.

He had just circled around the parking lot when he saw the flames bursting through the bushes.

"Those shrubs burned up like gasoline,“ Saunders said. 

He said the fire spread quickly across the property. 

Saunders said fire crews did arrive quickly, which saved the house.

Van Meeteren said fire crews in Ogden and other areas were kept busy Thursday night going from one grass fire to fires threatening homes because of fireworks. 

"We have had multiple calls,“ he said.

Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or lpark@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SELorettaPark.

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