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Elderly Tooele woman dies after being pulled from burning home

A Tooele woman died Tuesday after being pulled out of her burning home.

A Tooele woman died Tuesday after being pulled out of her burning home. (Ladd Egan, KSL-TV)

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TOOELE — A Tooele woman unable to escape her burning home died Tuesday after being pulled out of her house by rescue crews.

According to family members and social media posts, Sherri Smart was not able to get out of her house due to health issues. Neighbors say Smart was in her 70s and used a wheelchair to get around.

"Today our family suffered another tragic loss! We lost our dear mother/wife/grandmother/sister/friend in a house fire. Due to her health issues, she was unable to escape the smoke before succumbing to her injuries. Tooele City police and fire did everything they could and I know the family is beyond grateful. Not only did we lose the matriarch of our family but all items in the home are a loss," a family member posted on Facebook.

"This has been a devastating loss for us all!!!! We all miss you so much Sherri and I hope you truly know how loved you are."

The fire was reported about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. A relative arrived at the home, near 425 W. 500 South, to discover it was on fire and called 911, said Tooele Police Cpl. Colbey Bentley.

Two Tooele police officers who were the first to arrive at the scene were told Smart was unaccounted for and may still be inside, said Bentley. The officers went into the burning house but were forced back out due to extreme heat and smoke.

Fire crews were able to extinguish the flames and go back into the structure, where they found Smart in a main living area, Bentley said. She had a faint pulse when they found her.

Smart was carried out of the home and given medical attention but she died at the scene a short time later, he said.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine her exact cause of death.

Although police had not publicly released Smart's name as of midday Wednesday, word of her death spread quickly in Tooele on Tuesday.

"It's a tight-knit community," Bentley said. "They're a well-known family here so to have something like this happen — our community feels it. It's a tough loss for us."

How the fire started is still being investigated, but Bentley said as of Tuesday it was not considered suspicious. He did not know how long the fire had been burning by the time it was discovered. Smart was the only person at home at the time of the fire but her husband and another family member and her three young daughters were also living at the house.

A GoFundMe* campaign was started by other family members to help the girls who, according to the fundraiser, "lost all of their belongings."

Smart's neighbors say they are "heartbroken" over her tragic loss.

"You can't prepare for this," said Russ Hansen, bishop of the Tooele 14th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Hansen said the neighborhood is joining together to help the woman's family.

"Everybody speaks highly of her," he said. "She's had many different callings and different service opportunities in the church and everybody loved her."

Contributing: Ladd Egan

* does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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