Family rebuilds after fire that destroyed several homes in Tooele

Posted at 9:49 PM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 23:49:38-04

TOOELE, Utah -- One Tooele resident has become the first to rebuild after losing his home in the devastating Tooele arson fire that tore through a neighborhood less than two months ago.

Crew finished installing the second half of Bill Fuwell's home on Wednesday.

It sat in stark contrast to the flattened, empty, ash-filled lots that line Van Dyke Way. Inside, Fuwell looked around at his new home.

"I'm enjoying this house," he said, pointing to all the new features.

It's the little things he and his wife appreciate.

"This is what the wife fell in love with right here, was this pantry," he said, as he walked over to the frosted glass door with the word "Pantry" etched in italic letters.

The light and airy space is a step up from the house that used to sit in that exact spot.

"We got a lot more room in this one than we had in the old one," Fuwell said.

The old home is nearly a distant memory, but a painful one.

"It hurts, but it's gone now," Fuwell said, of the house he and his wife lived in for 15 years. "I can't bring it back."

An arson fire that sparked in the field near his house burned it clear to the ground in July. Fuwell and several others lost everything.

"I watched them haul it away in ashes, just twisted up metal," Fuwell said of his home.

Tooele Police said Wednesday they still don't have a suspect, or person of interest, identified in the case.

The city is still offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible.

Fuwell was one of the few with insurance, and the first to rebuild.

He, his wife and two grandkids are set to move into the home in two weeks.

"It's a relief, it really is," Fuwell said tearfully.

It's the little things, that also bring hope.

"He saw something shiny in the dirt," Fuwell explained, holding up a ring studded with a square of diamonds.

Fuwell's grandson found the ring buried, somehow not burned, in the rubble after crews cleaned out the site from the fire. The ring belongs to Fuwell's wife, and ended up being one of the few things they salvaged.

"I bought that probably 15, maybe 20 years ago for her," he said.

He's ready now to move forward. Fuwell has to, to get life back to normal.

"So we can feel at home again," Fuwell said, adding, "So we can start building our home back. That's why."