By Judy Reed
A fire that broke out in an Oakfield Township home Tuesday morning sent nine people to the hospital, including six children.
Fire departments were dispatched at 10:34 a.m. July 19, to a house on the northwest corner of 14 Mile and Podunk. According to Carl Rood, a witness at the scene, he was in the basement when he heard people hollering. But he said he had his music on, and it wasn’t unusual for the kids to be hollering. A few minutes later, his dad, Don Rood, was yelling at him through his window that the house was on fire. When he got outside, he saw several of the children on the roof.
“I had to get a ladder to help them down,” said Rood, who also said that one of them jumped out the window. He said that some passersby also stopped to help.
According to Oakfield Deputy Fire Chief Trachet, when they arrived on scene some of the children were on the roof above the porch on the west side of the house. “The bedroom window opened above it. We were setting up to push water out while they were getting the kids down,” he said.
Trachet explained that the nine people were sent to the hospital to be checked out because they were covered in soot, which carries carcinogens. “We just wanted them to get checked out,” he said.
Trachet also said that one of the passersby went above and beyond the call of duty when she helped out the family. “One young lady, Jennifer Brunges, was key in getting people out. She carried one of the homeowners out, kept the children safe, washed their faces, and even gave the ambulance two car seats from her own car. She then followed them down to the hospital. That young lady was a hero, and I don’t use that word too often,” remarked Trachet. “She saw smoke, saw people trying to get down, and went to help. Someone who is willing to follow the ambulance down to the hospital to make sure they are all ok is somebody special.”
Besides Oakfield, Courtland, Spencer, Montcalm, Cannon, Algoma, and Grattan Township Fire Departments were all on scene to fight the fire. The Kent County Sheriff Department was also on scene to assist.
Trachet explained that there were so many fire departments on scene because during the day volunteer firefighters are working day jobs. “It’s tough. Each department came with two or three firefighters,” he remarked.
The firefighters had the fire extinguished within about 80 to 85 minutes, but stayed on scene for several hours to make sure there were no hot spots. They cleared the scene at 3:53 p.m.
Trachet said the damage to the home was extensive.
While they have some preliminary ideas on how and where the fire started, Trachet noted that it’s still under investigation. A state investigator from the Michigan State Police Fire Marshal’s office will be investigating the fire this week.