Woman saved from burning home: ‘Everybody was pitching in’

Ottawa County

SPRING LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Spring Lake-area woman is safe thanks to the effort of friends, neighbors and an off-duty Department of Natural Resources officer who pulled the woman from her burning home. 

The fire happened last Wednesday at a mobile home park off State Road in Spring Lake Township.

Velma Youngs’ husband first discovered the fire.

“Fire just shoosed at his face. It got the top of his head and his beard,” Youngs said.

While they tried to put it out, the fire just kept growing.

Spring Lake Township community members save a woman from a burning home on Aug. 26, 2020.

Several family members were home when the fire was discovered and managed to escape.

But it wasn’t the smoke and flames blocking Velma’s escape from her burning home last Wednesday. It was the walker she uses to get around, which got caught in a doorway.

Her daughter Brandy was also inside trying to help her mother out.

Soon, a crowd gathered around the trailer.

“People were dialing 911. These other neighbors came here to help,” said neighbor Ken Lee, who along with others realized Youngs was in a bad spot and went to work, opening a back door and figuring out a game plan to get her out of the house.

A 2017 photo provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shows Officer Robert Slick.

About that same time, off-duty Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Robert Slick was out for a run near the park and saw the smoke.

“We’re always ready and willing to respond. I know any other officer, any other department’s the same way,” Slick said. “I started looking in the windows and asking people if anyone was left inside.”

Other neighbors got involved, including a family friend who also went inside.

In the heat of the rescue, with smoke filling the home and everyone concentrating on one thing — getting Velma out of there — it was a little difficult to sort out who did what.

“There was just a lot of brown smoke that was kind of billowing out. There weren’t any flames at that point. It was still pretty early on in the fire,” said Slick, who joined the DNR over five years ago.

Spring Lake Township community members save a woman from a burning home on Aug. 26, 2020.

“We had to pick her up and then take her walker, hand it to the guys who were outside here,” Lee said.

The bottom line was, it was a group effort and Youngs is safe. 

“Everybody was pitching in, doing everything they could,” Youngs said.

As for the cause, family members say they’re not sure what started the fire.

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