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Derek Petersen, KSL TV

Woman critically injured, 12 dogs killed in Orem house fire

By McKenzie Romero | Posted - Feb. 24, 2017 at 5:46 p.m.


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OREM — A woman was hospitalized in critical condition and 12 dogs died Friday from injuries suffered in a house fire in Orem.

Dale Steele, who lives in the home, said he was watching TV with his dogs about 2:30 a.m. when he smelled smoke.

"I looked out the back and the whole back of the house was on fire," Steele said, apologizing as he coughed from inhaling smoke in the blaze.

Steele said his wife, Jean, and their daughter and grandson were also in the home.

"It all happened so fast, there was no time to react," he said.

While he collapsed near a door, his wife and grandson managed to escape.

"A fireman carried me out to here," Steele said, speaking in front of the home. "I said, 'I've got a daughter in the basement, you've got to go get her.'"

Steele said his daughter suffered extensive smoke inhalation.

Orem Fire Battalion Chief Ryan Peterson said crews responding to the 911 call arrived to find heavy smoke and flames pouring from the house, 905 W. 450 North.

They also learned of the woman still trapped inside.

"Additional crews went in on a search, they did locate a victim in the basement. She was transported to a local facility," Peterson said.

The woman was in critical condition. Two more of the home's occupants were treated at the scene.

Peterson said 12 dogs were killed in the fire, and it is still unclear whether the family's cats managed to escape. Two dogs were rescued and have been returned to the homeowners, he said.

Steele said his wife has been breeding and selling Yorkshire terriers for 30 years.

"They were just her total love," Steele said of the dogs, saying the family had two dogs with two litters of puppies.

"We've had these dogs since they were puppies. They were well-groomed, well-loved. Before the fire I had six of them up on the couch with me. All I had to say was, 'It's TV time' and they would jump up on the couch with me and we'd watch TV," Steele said.

The home will be a total loss with damages exceeding $125,000, Peterson said. Investigators are working to determine what caused the blaze, but so far there are no indications the fire is suspicious, he said.

I don't know what to do next," Steele said, talking about the destruction. "Every, totally everything. … Fish tank, big screens, bedrooms, walls."

The Red Cross is assisting the family, including with clothes and a place to stay.

About 28 firefighters responded to the fire, including fire crews from Provo and Pleasant Grove. No firefighters were injured fighting the flames or rescuing the woman.

Contributing: Peter Samore

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McKenzie Romero

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