Firefighters from five agencies attempt to save single-story house

Sep 1 2012 - 7:51am

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A fire fighter wipes his face with a towel after working in heavy smoke to dowse the flames of a house on fire with dense trees surrounding it in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
Fire fighters work in heavy smoke to dowse the flames of a house on fire with dense trees surrounding it in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
Neighbors watch as fire fighters dowse the flames of a house on fire with dense trees surrounding it in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
Home owner Lon Hansen talks about his home that was on fire in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
Fire fighters work in heavy smoke to dowse the flames of a house on fire with dense trees surrounding it in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
A fire fighter wipes his face with a towel after working in heavy smoke to dowse the flames of a house on fire with dense trees surrounding it in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
Fire fighters work in heavy smoke to dowse the flames of a house on fire with dense trees surrounding it in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
Neighbors watch as fire fighters dowse the flames of a house on fire with dense trees surrounding it in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
Home owner Lon Hansen talks about his home that was on fire in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)
Fire fighters work in heavy smoke to dowse the flames of a house on fire with dense trees surrounding it in Roy Friday, August 31, 2012.  (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner)

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ROY -- Fire crews from five departments sliced through rush hour traffic Friday evening to battle a house fire in a tiny unincorporated area surrounded by Roy.

More than two dozen firefighters were on the scene, blasting water from three sides and from above, onto the uninhabited, single-story house that owner Lon Hansen, 81, built 48 years ago.

The burning home, at 4013 W. 5500 South, was unoccupied. Hansen moved several years ago into a house next door. Friday, at 6:30 p.m., he stood outside the garage of his current residence, watching crews work on the home where he and his wife raised their three children.

"There are some things you can't do much about," he said, explaining why he appeared to be so calm. "I've had a lot of things happen in my life. Sometimes you can do something and sometimes you can't."

Hansen's two houses and one other form the unincorporated "island" in Roy. One neighbor described the area as "a little bit of rural country surrounded by city."

Hansen said the burning house was surrounded by empty land when he built it. Today, the lot is full of large trees, and surrounded by a wooden fence.

David Austin, Weber Fire District fire chief, said the fence, large trees and bushes made fighting the fire much more difficult by limiting access. Gray smoked billowed through the tree branches and over the fence.

"It was fully involved when we arrived," Austin said. "The damage looks pretty heavy. We aren't sending anybody in based on safety conditions of the structure being compromised. We have heard from neighbors that there might be a lot of fuel inside and it might be a hoarding situation."

Austin said neighbors had indicated that belongings were stacked high in the structure. Austin said he couldn't send firefighters in knowing stacked items might fall, and that a variety of burning items inside might release toxic fumes.

Asked how long he expected his crews to be fighting the fire, Austin said it depended on how much fuel was inside.

Hansen said the house contained almost 50 years of memories, and he guessed a lot of mementos would be gone. Hansen said he and his son, Todd Hansen, who is visiting from California, had originally tried to fight the flames with garden hoses, but a passerby and Hansen's son soon called 911.

"A garden hose don't do much," the elder Hansen said.

Hansen said he had been in the house the day before, to water houseplants and to put some Moose Tracks ice cream, a luxury bought on sale, into the freezer, which was the only appliance running in the house.

"That ice cream is probably melted now," he said, with a slight smile.

"I learned a long time ago you can't worry if you can't do anything about it. I learned that from having children. Worrying will ruin your life."

Firefighters from the Weber Fire District and Roy, Clinton, Riverdale and Ogden battled the blaze.

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