OAKFIELD TWP., Mich. - Ten people escaped a house fire Tuesday morning in northeastern Kent County.
The fire was called in at about 10:30am at a home on the corner of 14 Mile Road NE and Podunk Avenue NE. It took seven local volunteer fire departments about an hour and a half to contain the fire. Meanwhile nine family members were taken in ambulance to the hospital, including five children ages 2 to 11; each are expected to recover from smoke inhalation.
"I couldn't see," said Carl Rood to FOX 17 Tuesday afternoon. "It takes your breath away."
Rood is one of 10 relatives living at the home, who recalled rushing from the basement Tuesday morning, scrambling to rescue his relatives still inside their burning home, including his sister and her kids trapped standing on the side roof.
"They climbed up on the roof, one of them jumped off onto the truck, but the other one's pregnant and the kids, so I just went into the garage, grabbed the ladder out, and they came down off the ladder," Rood said.
Flames rolled damaging the length of the roof. Just as Rood was helping his sister climb down from the roof, at least three good samaritans pulled over to help including Jennifer Brunges. She told FOX 17 she drives past the home daily, recently moved to the neighborhood, and said as soon as she pulled over she immediately ran inside to help.
"The grandma," said Brunges, "she had oxygen, she was very frail, she was crying, and she was covered in black soot. I just scooped her up and she said, 'no, leave me here,' and I just picked her up and I ran outside."
She said she was helping wipe the soot off the children's faces, when one of the children said the crib had first caught fire.
"I just started counting the kids, asking the moms whose kids went to who, and just started cleaning their faces with my shirt," said Brunges. "I spoke to the four-year-old, he said he was playing withe iPod and it sparked his hand and that's what caught the crib on fire and there was a baby in the crib."
Courtland Fire Department Chief Steve Mojzuk also said a charging "mobile device" started the fire in the family's living room. He said had this fire happened at night, when the local paid fire departments are better staffed, they would have contained the fire quicker.
"We've got very little help," said Mojzuk. "I got two guys in Courtland, three guys from Oakfield; so I kept on calling all the surrounding departments to bring water and manpower, and you see what we have here, very little at this time of day."
Perhaps ironically, the Rood family has a sign on their front lawn supporting the Oakfield Township Fire millage.
The American Red Cross is assisting the Rood family with housing. Meanwhile, the house was covered in a tarp to be boarded up by 5 p.m.
14 Mile Road NE was closed for several hours, but reopened about 3:15pm.