Facebook Twitter

BLAZE ELICITED FIRES OF EMPATHY IN OTHERS

SHARE BLAZE ELICITED FIRES OF EMPATHY IN OTHERS

Only the burned-out shell of the Barnhart's rented house at 2164 W. 7175 South remains from a 5 a.m. Wednesday fire that forced the family to flee through a bedroom window with nothing but their nightclothes.

But the fire that destroyed their home and most everything in it - including their Christmas - also warmed the hearts of the firefighters who doused the blaze and countless others who are helping the family rebuild and enjoy the holidays.By the time the fire was out, virtually all of the young family's belongings lay in a smoldering heap in the front yard next to the carport. A few pairs of pants, the laundry hamper, blankets and several other items were distinguishable in the rubble, but none of the items was salvageable.

West Jordan's public safety officials helped the family relocate to Monica's parents house in West Valley City, but they could tell a lot more needed to be done. By midday Wednesday, Public Safety Director Ken McGuire was helping his officers put out the word that they were collecting household and Christmas items for the family.

Part of the process, McGuire said, was getting the family's permission to solicit help. In the spirit of the holidays, the Barnharts agreed to be willing receivers. The response from those who wanted to share the holidays with someone they didn't know, someone who really needed something for Christmas, was overwhelming.

"The first thing (Thursday) morning all six of our phone lines lit up and stayed busy all morning," McGuire said.

"You won't believe all of the stuff that's piled here," said public safety receptionist Sherry Barrows.

"Most of the people who have come so far wanted to remain anonymous, which is perhaps as it should be. They just dropped off their stuff and wanted to get out of here," McGuire said. The pile of gifts at the police and fire station on 22nd West contained between 60 and 100 items Friday morning.

People have brought wrapped and unwrapped gifts, pillows and other household items and cash. "We had people call and say `I'm writing out a check for a couple-hundred dollars, who do I make the check out to?' " McGuire said.

The governor's office also is sending money that was collected for families in need.

Officers plan to deliver the gifts Saturday afternoon.

Several officers met with the family Thursday evening to find out what their needs and plans are. "They're trying to find another place to live so they don't have to inconvenience Monica's family," McGuire said.

Because the house is rented, it is unknown whether the Barnharts will return to the same neighborhood.

Officers believe the Barnhard's 4-year-old started the fire with a lighter early Wednesday morning in the living room.

She ran to her parents' room and woke them, but the flames were too large for the family to escape through the front door, so the couple and their two children had to escape through a bedroom window.