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'Too big, too fast': West Valley home destroyed by fire

WEST VALLEY CITY — Melanie Cloward was home watching TV on Thursday when she heard some crackling outside her door.

"I opened the back door and flames started coming in so I shut it and got my family out," Cloward said. "And then me and my neighbor tried to hose it down, but it just got too big, too fast."

The blaze at 3806 S. 6580 West proved to be "a stubborn fire" for emergency responders as well, said West Valley Fire Chief John Evans, who confirmed that the burned home is considered a total loss.

The fire began on the back porch shortly before 2:45 p.m., but there were no obvious clues as to what caused it, Evans said. Fire investigators arrived at the home late Thursday afternoon to determine what happened.

Cloward's husband, Joe Cooper, said she called him about the emergency while he was at work.

"I freaked out, and then she told me everybody was out of the house and calmed me down," Cooper said.

The couple was at a loss Thursday about what might have started the fire that destroyed their home. However, they stayed positive amid the devastation.

"My family’s safe. That’s all that matters to me," Cooper said, his eyes filling with tears. "My family is the most important thing to me in my life."

Windy weather moved the back porch fire "and pushed it right through the attic," Evans said. The interior of the attic was difficult to access, so the approximately 30 firefighters on scene were forced to use a truck ladder and attack it from above.

The back of the home was engulfed in flames when fire crews first arrived, according to Evans.

A motor home was also destroyed, and two cars were damaged, the fire chief said. At least one person was treated on scene for smoke inhalation, but there were no other injuries.

Unified Fire Authority crews also assisted at the home. More crews than usual responded because of the hot weather, Evans said.

"You worry about heat, you worry about hydration," he said. "It’s hot, it's windy and you can only last so long in the gear."


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