Just after noon on Tuesday Sept. 4, 2012, Austin Larson was working at the rock pit in Mountain Green when he heard an unusual noise across the street that got his attention. When he confirmed there was smoke he quickly went to the Mountain Green fire Station, where he works as a volunteer fire fighter. Larson retrieved the fire engine and made his way back the short distance to the home to find that the fire was already fully evolved. By this time calls were coming in from a postal worker who was in the area, a 1st Bank employee from the bank next to the house, and others who viewed the smoke and flames.
As the house burned firefighters from surrounding areas were called in including two trucks from Weber County and a ladder truck from South Ogden. Brush trucks helped with a grass fire that spread behind 1st Bank, Mountain Green Branch. Twenty-eight fire fighters worked on the blaze before they were able to stop it around 4 p.m. The house continued to smolder until about 6 p.m. A crew remained at the scene overnight and was able to control two or three flare ups during the night, reported Dave Rich, Morgan County fire chief.
Even with the quick action and the extra help, the fire completely over took the house, leaving only a fragment of the front. The rubble that is left is required by the state to be moved within two weeks. Loydene Berg, the homeowner, is responsible for the cost and removal of the remains of the fire.
Loydene and her son PJ had left the house a short time before for a doctor appointment and were not home; however, their dog was not able to escape and perished in the fire. Loydene stayed with neighbors Andre and Maren Malan. PJ stayed with an uncle who lives nearby. They are unsure of their plans for long term living arrangements.
To compound the tragedy, there was a brief lapse of home insurance. The house needed a few updates to get it up to code. Friends helped Loydene get the house to code. The problems were fixed and renewing the home owners insurance was on Loydenes to do list on Tuesday when she returned from the doctors appointment. Unfortunately it was too late to make that call. Only a couple of weeks without insurance proved to be tragic. She is left with nothing but ashes and no insurance coverage.
Before the flames were even extinguished, the community started to do what it does best and pull together to help each other. Calls were sent, facebook messages were posted, and donation drop off points were established. By Tuesday night, local businessman Jerry Peirce offered his trailer to collect items to be donated to the Bergs. For those who would like to donate items, the trailer is located at 388 East State Street at Mountain Valley Real Estate.
An account is set up at Morgan First Bank and donations can be given at either the Mountain Green Branch or Morgan Branch. They are in great need of any help they can receive.
The Bergs are not strangers to major tragedy. In spring of 2000 the family went to Chevys restaurant in Midvale to celebrate PJ’s birthday. Loydene enjoyed the evening with her children, Whitney and PJ, along with her husband, Peter. As the family left the restaurant Loydene and PJ took one car while Peter and Whitney took another car. Peter and Whitney were at their car when a stranger approached them and demanded the car. Peter threw the keys to divert attention away from then 12-year-old Whitney. When he threw the keys he was shot two times fatally. "His intent was to get Quinn Martinez, the shooter, away from Whitney, and he bought PJ and me time, too." Loydene told reporters shortly after the incident. In his last breath, Peter Berg asked a woman who came to help, "Is Whitney OK?" That night another man was killed and three others were injured by this unknown and unprovoked assailant.
Loydene, PJ and Whitney have coped with the devastating loss. Loydene found particular solice in her music. She writes music and interprets hymns. She has recorded CDs and enjoys helping others coping with loss. She has spoken on forgiveness to help others realize their ability to forgive.
In a Deseret News article three years after that incident, she talked about her Yamaha baby grand concert piano and an electric Yamaha Clavinova. Peter would sit by her while she played when he was alive. "Now she plays to his memory and to new beginnings. Her piano has been a healer" the article stated. "It’s one of the times I’ve felt OK. Especially in the beginning, I felt so changed, but when I played, I felt OK," she said. Her pianos and all of the material items left of Peter were destroyed in the fire.
We encourage the community to help this family through this devastating time.