BALTIMORE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A burn victim is fighting for her life after an early Wednesday morning fire, but actions by a passerby before fire crews arrived helped keep her alive.
The house fire off M-37 near Tebo Road in rural Baltimore Township, south of Hastings, was reported just before 5 a.m.
Scott Ward said he called it in after driving by and noticing a glowing light coming from the house.
“I couldn’t exactly tell if it was a house fire but it was enough to make me stop and back that truck up,” he told 24 Hour News 8.
An elderly man was near the front entrance when Ward ran up to the house and told him someone was trapped upstairs.
“I was able to get about 10 feet into the house and the flames and the smoke was very intense. My glasses fogged up right away so I took them off. I couldn’t see a whole lot more at that point,” Ward explained.
There was no way he could get upstairs, but he said he was “able to crawl into the house and contain it with (a) garden hose. It appeared to be just one room on fire, but I wasn’t able to get far into the house to really tell.”
Ward said he worked for about 15 or 20 minutes before the Hastings Fire Department arrived. He didn’t think twice about rushing in to help, even though he was shocked while crawling through the standing water coming from the garden hose.
Hastings Fire Chief Roger Caris said his crews were able to rescue the bedridden woman on the second floor and knocked down the flames quickly.
“I’d like to hope I saved her life by keeping the fire contained,” Ward said of the woman.
Caris said the woman was badly burned but was still breathing before she was taken by ambulance to the Hastings Airport and then airlifted to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. She was listed in critical condition Wednesday afternoon.
The elderly man is OK.
Caris said an investigation into how the fire started is underway, but authorities don’t believe it was arson.
***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the injured woman based on an unconfirmed report. We are working to clarify the identity of the fire victim with authorities.***