A restful night began with a peculiar smell of smoke and faint sounds of fireworks and ended with a catastrophic house fire. BYU history professor Jay Buckley turned off the nighttime news and prepared for bed. As he laid in bed he smelled an unusual odor. As he investigated the odor, he quickly realized it was smoke.
Buckley went outside his home in Orem to find a fire on his roof, starting to engulf his office upstairs. He immediately called 911. They instructed him to get out of the house.
“My first priorities were getting my wife and children out to make sure they were safe,” Buckley said.
The fire occurred on July 1 at 10:35 p.m. Buckley said fireworks are to blame for the fire that damaged the whole top floor — three bedrooms, two bathrooms and his personal office. The lower levels also received water damage from extinguishing the fire. The person responsible is still unknown.
Buckley’s office contained all of his Utah history sources, including Utah Indian books and county histories.
“Lots of my original western Indian art and many of my history books. I’m not sure if any of my books can be salvaged,” Buckley said.
He was in the midst of preparing for classes and research articles. The majority of his sources were in the office and the level of fire damage is unknown.
“I’ll just have to figure out another method to gather all those resources and get back to work,” Buckley said.
Provo City Battalion Chief Lynn Schofield makes recommendations in regards to firework safety. “Use common sense when using your fireworks. Make sure you have a bucket or garden hose,” Schofield said.
According to National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause over 18,000 fires per year, which result in $43 million property damage cost on average.
This next month is the busiest month for Provo’s Fire and Rescue, according to Schofield.
Open discharge dates for fireworks are July 1 to July 7 and July 21 to July 27. Fireworks are prohibited in certain locations in eastern Provo.
Schofield mentioned some cities prohibit the use of fireworks, but Provo established regulations so the people of Provo can use fireworks.
“We want you to be able have your fireworks. We want you to enjoy it. But we want you to use your head and be aware of your surroundings,” Schofield said.
After the fire, Buckley thanks the help of his local and BYU communities as well as the fire department.
“There’s been an outpouring amount of support from the community,” Buckley said.
Buckley and his family have found a home to rent in their neighborhood while their house undergoes construction, “which can take four to six months,” Buckley said.
Many possessions were lost and the Buckley family relocated but he said their safety was the greatest blessing.
“We all survived,” Buckley said. “That’s the most important thing.”