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Davis Journal

Neighbors rally to help family displaced by house fire

Nov 10, 2023 09:09AM ● By Becky Ginos
The roof of a home on Summerwood Drive in Bountiful is engulfed in flames. Photo courtesy of South Davis Metro Fire

The roof of a home on Summerwood Drive in Bountiful is engulfed in flames. Photo courtesy of South Davis Metro Fire

BOUNTIFUL—Friends, neighbors and even strangers pulled together over the weekend to help the family of a devastating house fire last Saturday night with clothes, food and shelter. 

“It’s amazing to see the community step up without being asked,” said neighbor Andrew Eberhardt. “Jeremy and Hollie Wardle are amazing people.”

Jeremy has done different things in his career and at one time he was a contractor, said Eberhardt. “His father helped him build that home. To watch the home you live in burn is hard enough but the one you built too?”

They’re a huge part of the neighborhood, he said. “They have seven kids and two are married. They were both living with them temporarily. One of them had a baby just two weeks ago so there was a newborn in the house.”

A stranger knocked on the door to let them know there was smoke coming out of the chimney area, Eberhardt said. “He also knocked on three other doors around them. He was just a man in a suit, no one knew him. They literally had minutes to grab what they could. They were standing barefoot on the street watching their house burn down.”

“We received a call of a possible house fire on Summerwood Drive (Saturday night),” said South Davis Metro Fire Chief Dane Stone. “The homeowner had lit the fireplace for the first time (this year). Eye witnesses said the family didn’t know the roof was on fire. A passerby alerted them.”

When crews arrived and went inside there was good visibility, he said. “When they got to the attic, the smoke and heat pushed them back outside. We had to go defensive on it.”

Stone said they had a water main break. “Bountiful City redirected water incredibly fast. A shout out to Bountiful City. It created a little bit of a challenge but we never stopped water, we were able to use the water we had.”

Everything points to a fire from the chimney getting into the attic spaces, he said. “It could have been creosote build up. The fire is usually contained in the chimney but there could be a break or crack and it goes outside to the attic space and catches the wood on fire.”

There were nine people in the residence at the time of the fire. They were all able to get out safely. A neighbor across the street took them into their home and gave the family a place to stay. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

“I wasn’t home and I got a call that the Wardle home was up in flames,” said Eberhardt. “The sky was bright orange with 10 to 15 feet flames in the air. They were squirting so much water that it was spilling into the driveway. They fought and fought the fire.”

Everyone reacts differently, he said. “You’re shell shocked and wondering ‘what can I do?’ There’s a variety of emotions.”

When they finally got the fire put out the family across the street opened their basement and said “come here,” he said. “Several families made that offer. It was an incredible act of charity. We put the word out that they would need shoes and clothes. Literally within an hour we had a big bag of everything, backpacks, food, etc.”

It was awesome to see that, Eberhardt said. “The neighborhood getting together and the outpouring of love. Everyone’s heart was with the Wardle family.”

The next day at church, while wearing someone else’s clothes, Jeremy thanked everyone, Eberhardt said. “His daughter had found the most important thing to her and that was a blanket. Jeremy said that was the most valuable thing.”

It was awesome to see the Relief Society president and bishop in action, said Eberhardt. “They assessed the needs. It can be physical needs, emotional support, it comes in different ways. Everyone was very organized.”

There is a significant amount of loss, said SDMF Battalion Chief Jeff Larsen. “We’re fortunate that there were no injuries to civilians or firefighters. We don’t have a dollar amount yet on the damage, it’s still under investigation.”

The great thing and the most fortunate thing is the strong community support, he said. “It’s a tight knit community. It’s not just neighbors, it’s strangers too. Families assisting each other. The community support has been incredible.”

Larsen said they appreciate the support too. “People were willing to listen to police officers and helped by being understanding of road closures. Everybody stayed away to allow us to extinguish the fire in the safest manner.”

“People did far, far more than me,” Eberhardt said. “Everybody got involved. The youth were reaching out and also younger kids. They (Wardles) are surrounded by many neighbors who care. They stand on their shoulders.”

A Venmo account has been set up for the Wardle family: @Hollie-Wardle.