HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who helped rescue someone from a burning home in Holland says God put him in the right place at the right time.
Neighbor Terry Joldersma said he normally works Fridays, but decided to take the day off. He happened to be driving past the home on West 19th Street just after 9 a.m. when he noticed the smoke and stopped to help.
“There was people screaming and yelling, ‘There’s somebody there. There’s somebody in the house!'” Joldersma said.
The smoke was too heavy to see anything.
“I started feeling around inside there,” Joldersma recalled. “And then there was an arm. I felt her arm and went, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s somebody in here. It’s not good.’ Still couldn’t see her, but just tried to pull.”
He could not lift her out. That’s when an unidentified man joined in the effort. The two were able to lift the woman out of the burning room.
“Normally I would’ve not been there. Like I said, God would have it that we were in the right place at the right time to do the right thing,” Joldersma said.
A toddler was also pulled from the burning home.
Three people who were inside the home were taken to Holland Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. One was later listed in serious but stable condition; the conditions of the two others are stable.
Two more people who were inside the house were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. Joldersma was also treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Additionally, a firefighter sustained a minor injury to the shoulder while fighting the fire.
Holland Fire Marshal Bret Groendyke said he’s convinced that because the fire was spreading so rapidly, there would have been multiple fatalities had Joldersma gotten involved even one minute later.
He called the rescue by Joldersma and the other man heroic.
“Absolutely. The more we can get people involved as quick as possible, clearly being mindful of their own safety — we don’t want to put anybody in any sort of jeopardy,” Groendyke said.
The fire was put out my mid-afternoon.
Groendyke said there were some lessons to be learned. It appears there were no working smoke detectors in the house. And as panic set in, several doors and windows were open, causing the fire to spread more rapidly.
The Holland Fire Department has a video online that shows why these lessons are so important.
***EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated six people were injured in the fire based on preliminary reports from authorities. This story has since been updated.***