Houses destroyed in fire belonged to paramedic, nurse

Rockford Oak Street fire 050617_333701

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Two medical responders who are normally helping others have found themselves the victims after a fire destroyed two homes in Rockford.

Saturday night, Rockford Ambulance paramedic Rich Keizer got a text from a fellow first responder.

“‘What’s your address? I’m like 138 Oak Street,'” Keizer described the text. “And my very next thing was going to be like, ‘Is something happening in the neighborhood?'”

It was a fire at his house. Flames towered over the trees as firefighters battled the blaze.

“My concern right away was the family that lives with me,” Keizer said.

His niece, her husband and their baby, who were living with Keizer, were the only ones home. They all escaped and are OK.

Keizer said his niece’s husband spotted a flicker outside the basement window. It was a cigarette butt in a canister outside. Keizer said that before his niece’s husband could grab a hose to put it out, the fire grew out of control and the spread to the house next door, which happens to be the home of a nurse.

The blackened remains of his house are a familiar sight to Keizer, who has responded to hundreds of fires in his 16 years as paramedic.

“We’re always in a position to deal with other people’s problems. Sometimes we don’t realize we have our own weaknesses and have to step up and utilize those resources,” Keizer said.

But the house was just property, he said. What makes him emotional is what could have happened to his family members.

“God’s watching over this thing, too. This could’ve so quickly turned into an injury or a death on this one,” he said.

Keizer said insurance should cover the loss of his house. He is staying in a hotel for now, and the nurse is also not living in her house.

—–Online:GoFundMe: Rich Keizer Relief FundGoFundMe: Linda Zahrn Relief Fund

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