BYU students move forward after Thanksgiving fire destroys home

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BYU advertising student Jacob Baker and his wife were visiting family in Colorado when they got a call on Thanksgiving morning: their Provo apartment was on fire.

“We didn’t really know what was going on a whole lot because we were removed from the situation. We just kind of had news articles to look at and that’s about it,” Baker said.

Baker said he and his wife couldn’t return to their apartment until the following Monday.

“It felt very surreal,” he said. “I’m used to seeing the apartment lit and the hallways clean and stuff, but the hallway leading up to our apartment looked like something straight out of an apocalypse zombie movie, just because there was soot everywhere and random soot marks on the wall.”

According to a previous Daily Universe article, the Thanksgiving day fire took place in the North Canyon Condominiums, and over 80 residents were evacuated. Out of the 48 units in the building, 10 were completely destroyed.

The fire caused an estimated loss of $3-4 million in structure damage, according to a tweet by Provo Fire and Rescue.

Dean York, Captain of the Provo Fire Department, said the cause is still undetermined but was most likely started by an electrical issue in the attic.

A tweet from Provo Fire and Rescue on the day of the fire shows the damage to the condominium from the roof perspective. (Provo Fire and Rescue)

The Bakers’ apartment was on the top floor — right next to the attic.

“Because we weren’t there, we weren’t sure exactly how the pictures that we were seeing lined up with the floor plan to know if our apartment was really badly damaged,” Baker said.

But luckily, though they were afraid their apartment had been completely demolished, it didn’t receive the worst damage.

“It could have been a lot worse. We were able to get some of the basics, like our medicine and a lot of our books on our bookshelf that had a little bit of water damage, but it looks like they’ll be salvageable. And some other sentimental things we were able to get back,” he said. “But all of our furniture and our clothes — between the water damage and the smoke damage — are just not recoverable.”

But through it all, Baker has maintained a positive outlook on the situation.

“We had a lot of people reach out to help, which is really nice and helps me really realize the spirit of Thanksgiving. There’s a lot to be grateful for,” he said.

Baker’s mother-in-law started a GoFundMe for the couple, and he said he and his wife stayed with family in South Jordan before they were able to rent out an Airbnb in Provo.

But Baker said what cost them financially was that they didn’t learn about renters insurance until after the fact. The only money they received was their security deposit.

“I would recommend that (students) seek out renters insurance. That’s something that we didn’t know about,” he said. “Especially if the apartment complex that you’re in is older than 10 years, or even five years.”

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