Dale Sumerix isn't happy about losing the 1984 Jeep he recently restored, but he says it really doesn't matter.
"We're just glad everybody's out," Sumerix said Tuesday morning, just hours after the northwest Orem home where he was staying was destroyed by fire."I couldn't believe how fast it went. It was so hot in there," he said.
Sumerix was inside the home at 964 W. 630 North with his daughter and son-in-law, Sandy and Travis Tippitts. The three of them, along with the Tippittses' 11-month-old son, awoke just in time to escape injury from the 4:30 a.m. blaze.
"By the time we got oriented and were coming down the hall, the smoke had filled the hallway," Sumerix said.
Orem fire investigators have yet to determine the cause of the blaze. They believe it started in the carport and spread to the roof of the home before descending on the sleeping residents via the walls, Sumerix said.
The house is a complete loss. Also destroyed were Sumerix's Jeep, which had recently been outfitted with new paint, tires, rims and top, and a Ford Taurus the Tippittses had recently purchased. Orem Police Lt. Mike Larsen estimated the total damage at approximately $100,000.
Sumerix and the Tippitts family lost nearly all their belongings. By noon Wednesday, however, they had received help from their insurance company to get back on their feet and had located an apartment.
None of the home's four occupants required medical treatment. Fortunately, Travis Tippitts heard the crackling of the fire and woke up in time to get his family out.
The strange thing, Sumerix said, is that Travis is usually a heavy sleeper and doesn't even wake up when the baby cries. Sumerix woke up when he heard his dog, Lady, barking outside.
"She seemed like she was barking a lot so I thought, `I better go tell her to be quiet,' " Sumerix said. "But then I heard Sandy and Travis running around."
Once outside, Sumerix immediately freed the dog, who was also unharmed, from her pen.
Sumerix attributes the family's escape to having the doors of their bedrooms closed, preventing smoke from overcoming them while they slept. Although the fire had engulfed the home by the time Orem firefighters arrived, Sumerix was impressed with fire-fighters' effort.
"They were remarkable," he said. "They organized and went at it."
Sumerix is disappointed because he knows the Jeep will be difficult to replace. But he said he's glad the fire didn't destroy his restored 1984 Harley Davidson motorcycle, and most of all, he's happy to be alive.
He said the fire may have started near the battery of the Jeep, which was parked in the carport adjoining the house. From there, it may have caught on some oil near the engine and then spread to the Jeep's upholstery, Sumerix said.
Sumerix had driven the Jeep to the grocery store for milk about 8 p.m. Monday, and he noticed nothing wrong. When the family went to bed at midnight, there was no sign of trouble, Sumerix said. He isn't sure what may have sparked the blaze.
Tuesday's fire was the second to destroy an Orem home in the last three days. Early Sunday, a home at 1923 N. 135 West was destroyed by a blaze of undetermined cause.