Utah "Mullet House" fire draws online fascination
A suspected arson at a sprawling, long-vacant mansion in Orem has gone viral as tidbits about the home's convoluted history circulate among internet sleuths, influencer fans, real estate lookie-loos and watchers of Utah County affluence-drama.
What happened: A fire broke out on Dec. 26 at a 27,000-square-foot house at 479 E. 1450 North in Orem, destroying the unfinished building less than two months after it was listed for sale for at least the fourth time in eight years. The fire occurred two weeks after an open house was advertised on Zillow.
- Investigators last week announced they suspect the fire was intentional.
- A French Provincial false front rose above a shorter roof, like the set of a cowboy movie.
- The building itself was mostly recreational space: a pool with a waterslide, tennis and pickleball court, and a game room with skee ball machines and an air hockey table.
- The residential area was unfinished, with exposed beams and boards.
Context: YouTube personalities "The Ninja Fam" made the house internet-famous last year with a realtor tour depicting flooding inside.
- Utah Instagrammer and photographer Rebekah Westover posted footage of the house in 2021.
- On Reddit, McMansion Hell has been following the house for years.
Flashback: The home's first owner when it was built in the late 1980s was an executive with WordPerfect, per Utah County property records; a standalone indoor pool — the building that burned — was added in 1991.
- The original home was demolished around 2013, shortly after a plastic surgeon and his girlfriend died in the house after a drug overdose; the surgeon had just completed a jail sentence for kidnapping his girlfriend.
- Thomas Dickson, founder of the Blendtec blender company, owned the house in 2015 when the mansion facade was added to the remaining pool structure.
Catch up quick: Since 2012, ownership of the home has transferred between Dickson family members and is now held by a property company originally registered by Dickson, but whose registered agent is Dickson's daughter-in-law.
- Property and court records show ownership of the home was under dispute in recent years in legal challenges filed by some family members and their companies.
- A realtor for the latest property listing told KUTV in December that Dickson's son now owns it.
What they're saying: "I think the owners of the property, their plans had just changed, and I think ... they just decided that they weren't gonna pursue a finished house and just wanted to sell it," realtor Ned Chidester told FOX 13.
- "This house is 100% cursed. No one can convince me otherwise," Westover posted on Instagram.
What's next: Federal agents are investigating the fire alongside Orem police and other local authorities.
- They say the case likely will take months.
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