Isoms recount ‘scariest night’ in house fire

Utah QB Donovan Isom rushed home to be with family

Denise Isom’s voice was hoarse as she spoke last week, just two days after a fire destroyed her home of more than 36 years.

The smoke from the fire was one reason for that; an emotional roller-coaster ride, that night, likely another. “It was the scariest experience of my life,” Isom said. “I’ve never been through anything like it.”

Isom, the mother of Utah Utes quarterback and former Destrehan High School star Donovan Isom, lived in the home with her mother, father and daughter. While the fire took the home the family so loved, it could have been far worse.“I woke up around midnight and heard, ‘beep, beep, beep,’” she said. “I didn’t think much of it. I thought my daddy would just go check the smoke alarm. I fell asleep, but it couldn’t have been for more than a little while when I woke up again and heard a loud crackling, popping noise. I thought my dad must have fallen asleep while fixing something on the stove, but I realized he’d never do that. I walked down the hall and saw the living room in flames.”

She said her daughter heard her mother screaming, and both successfully fled the house. But Isom thought her father, Murphy, would be right behind them.

“I realized he wasn’t outside with us,” Isom said. “I started screaming so loudly. My first instinct was to run back in to find him. I got inside, but the smoke was so … I’ve never seen smoke take anything over like that. My lungs started burning. I realized I wouldn’t be able to make it farther than the kitchen.”

She ran next door and enlisted the help of a neighbor. When they reexamined the fray, Isom said she saw “a dark figure” in the back of the house by a window.

“He was trying to get out, but he was out of breath,” Isom said. “He had no strength.”

Her neighbor helped pull Murphy out of the home. Isom’s father suffered burns from the intensity of the heat, and has been undergoing treatment for damage to his lungs by the fire smoke.

Soon, the fire department showed up — “They were tremendous,” Isom said, adding, “They didn’t take long at all.” The Isoms were thankfully safe, but the critical damage to their home was already done.

People in the community have already begun responding to the family’s plight. A GoFundMe account has been set up by Isom’s friend, Lynette Matthews; as of Monday, the GoFundMe account had $8,755 had been raised to help the Isoms get back on their feet.

“They have lost everything. This fund will help with them purchasing immediate items needed. Whatever you can give will be a blessing unto them,” the GoFundMe page reads. Donovan Isom learned of the fire early Tuesday morning and said he was shaken up by the news.

“I got a call from my sister around 2 a.m.,” he said. “I knew getting a call from a family member at that time isn’t good news … She was crying. I couldn’t sleep after that. My coaches were great about it and I got back home Wednesday.”

The quarterback was one of the state’s most decorated prep football stars prior to his graduation from Destrehan in 2013. He signed a full scholarship to attend the University of Utah. He led Destrehan to the Class 5A state semifinals in 2013.

He was moved by the outpouring of community support. “It’s really a blessing,” he said. “People at home, people in Utah, it’s been amazing.”

Denise Isom said she is deeply touched by the outpouring of support and well-wishes.

“I am so grateful,” she said. “There have been so many donations and prayers. It’s showed me how people care.”

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