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Two escape West Jordan house fire

Published: Sunday, July 22 2012 2:51 p.m. MDT

WEST JORDAN — Two people were able to escape a house fire early Sunday morning, but one of the family's two dogs died in the blaze.

West Jordan Fire Battalion Chief Reed Scharman said the fire apparently started in a downstairs family room when a 15-year-old boy knocked over a bottle of nail polish remover and the contents were ignited by a smoldering cigarette left by his grandmother.

Scharman said the boy tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the blaze before heading upstairs through the smoke to help his grandmother, who used home oxygen, and one of the family's dogs to safety. 

"The 15-year-old attempted to put the fire out by beating on it with a shoe and then some towels," Scharman said. "Unfortunately, in this case, it probably made it worse."

The boy's uncle, Marc Vanhuizen, said he feared he'd lost his mother when he first heard about the fire. Because of the number of oxygen containers in the house, Vanhuizen said he was surprised it wasn't destroyed completely.

"I assumed the worst. I thought my mom was gone," he said during a tour of the aftermath. Looking at the damage, Vanhuizen said, "It's like walking through hell."

He said his nephew was pouring water onto an ashtray to put out the smoldering cigarette when he bumped the open bottle of nail polish remover. 

"The fingernail polish remover caught fire. It landed on the couch," Vanhuizen said. "He put the couch cushion on the floor and tried to put the fire out. And it got overwhelming to him."

Damage from the two-alarm fire on Rhonda Avenue was estimated at $60,000. Scharman said when authorities responded at 2:35 a.m., the fire had largely extinguished itself after spreading upstairs to the kitchen.

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