‘Angel’ aids family’s narrow escape from explosive fire

Kent County

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Comstock Park homeowner credits a vigilant newspaper delivery man and her dogs for saving her and her family from an explosive Fourth of July fire that heavily damaged her home.

“What I have on is what I own at this point,” Toni Jolman said Monday.

(A photo Grace Niemeyer sent to ReportIt shows what’s left of a Comstock Park home after an explosive fire on July 4, 2021.)

Jolman and six others were asleep in her home when Jolman’s dogs woke her around 4:30 a.m. on July 4.

“(I) let them in my room, heard a banging on the door, it was an older guy,” Jolman said. “(I) kind of got scared, being a female answering the door at that time. He screamed that my garage was on fire.”

The good Samaritan was delivering newspapers when he spotted what he first thought was a bonfire at the home located in the 4900 block of Pleasant Creek Ave. NE, just southeast of US-131 and 6 Mile Road NE.

“He was concerned it might hit trees. And (the) closer he drove, he noticed it was my house on fire,” Jolman said. “This man, he’s an angel, he saved my life. Between him and my dogs, we’re here today because of this man. Greg thank you, whoever you are, thank you.”

Jolman rushed to get her family and pets out of the house. Moments after their escape, a propane tank in the garage exploded, along with some fireworks.

“Everything on (the) main floor, between ceiling, insulation and fiberglass, nothing is salvageable,” Jolman said.

Video captured on a nearby camera shows a firefighter approaching the burning garage when the blast happens, sending burning debris down the driveway toward the first responder. Despite the close call, dispatchers said no one was injured.

The Plainfield Township Fire Department is trying to determine the cause of the fire.

The incident stirs up bad memories for Jolman.

“We did have working fire alarms,” Jolman said. “Definitely a priority of mine. My mom had experienced a tragic house fire when she was 16 and lost family members. Something that I grew up with, like (the) worst nightmare I ever thought about having.”

Jolman is currently staying at a relative’s home. While she waits to hear back from her insurance company, neighbors have set up a collection box near her damaged home to help her and her family.

“The community outpouring has been humbling and such a blessing,” Jolman said.

Her son’s fiancée, who also lives in the home, has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover the cost of shelter and necessities for the family.

While they no longer have many material possessions, Jolman is glad to have her family.

“I told my daughter, things can be taken, memories can’t,” Jolman said. ” Home is made by (the) people in it, not the things.”

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