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Community helps build Heber family new home after fire

After a house fire, Lance Larsen's home was almost completely destroyed.
Joe Witt
After a house fire, Lance Larsen's home was almost completely destroyed.

In fall of last year, a Heber family lost their home to a house fire. The community stepped up to put a new roof over their heads in time for the holidays.

While traveling over Labor Day weekend in 2022, Lance Larsen got a call with bad news.

“Our house was on fire,” he said. “I thought it was just a little fire. It turned out to be pretty much a total loss.”

His wife and grandchildren were not hurt, but the family found themselves homeless and underinsured.

Over the course of the next year, dozens of the Larsens’ neighbors around the Heber Valley pitched in to help them get a new home. People and businesses donated time, building materials, money and furniture to the family.

Joe Witt, who owns a local construction company, said when he heard about the fire, he knew the insurance payout wouldn’t be enough to help the Larsens.

“I could see that they were running into a situation where it wasn’t going to turn out good,” he said.

Witt realized he could help the family get back on their feet. So he picked up the phone and started making calls.

He contacted the Park City Area Home Builders Association and some connections in the construction industry and asked them if they would be willing to pitch in.

“I made it a goal to say everybody that’s going to work on the project is going to give something,” he said.

Companies donated time, labor and materials; neighbors donated money and furniture; Heber City helped get the home plans approved quickly so construction could begin. And this fall, the family walked into their new home for the first time.

The Larsens now have a new roof over their heads.
Joe Witt
The Larsens now have a new roof over their heads.

“It was so nice to be back home,” Larsen said. “Best I’ve slept in a year was our first night staying there.”

Many of the people who donated or helped build the house attended the ribbon-cutting to celebrate and welcome the Larsens to their new home.

Larsen is excited the house includes bedrooms for when his grandchildren visit. And he said it’s cozy – the old house, built in the 1890s, was hard to keep warm in the winter.

“Our new home is just rock solid,” he said.

Above all, he said he’s grateful for the kindness of the Heber community.

“If anybody listens to this that I didn’t thank, again, thank you for everything,” he said, his voice full of emotion. “We’re very humbled and thankful.”

With winter arriving in the Heber Valley, the Larsen family’s story gives new meaning to coming home for the holidays.