GRANBY, Mass. (WWLP) – An Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who suffered a spinal cord injury and lost one of his legs while serving our country is now out of his home, due to a fire Monday night. Members of the community in the close-knit Hampshire County town of Granby, however, are coming forward to help him out.
The Chicopee Street home of U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Josh Bouchard was custom built for him back in 2012 by hundreds of volunteers from the nonprofit Homes for Our Troops.
Bouchard told 22News that Monday night, he smelled smoke, and saw the fire coming from the garage. He said that the gas tanks for his car, lawnmower, and ATV blew up, and that the fire spread through the kitchen into the attic. Bouchard said that he was knocked out of his wheelchair, but what he did next was just second nature.
“A combat roll, like you’re avoiding fire, which technically I was.” Bouchard broke open his front door and saved both of his dogs before saving himself. “I think my experiences in the military completely are what saved me, absolutely.”
Bouchard was taken to the hospital after breathing in too much smoke, but he has been released, and he said that he is otherwise feeling good. Bouchard told 22News that he has insurance on the house, but he does not know just how quickly everything can be rebuilt. In the meantime, he is staying at his father’s home.
All three of Bouchard’s electric wheelchairs- totaling about $100,000 in value – burned in the fire, as well as a $15,000 prosthetic leg.
However, as quickly as the fire spread, so did the news Tuesday morning about Bouchard. That is when pharmacist Lee Lalonde of Center Pharmacy decided to donate a wheelchair; “I’m just, I didn’t start anything, but thank you. I’m just doing what we can do here.”
Josh’s father, James Bouchard, says that it looks like the Christmas spirit isn’t over just yet. “Josh was going to do a run this summer with a motorcycle club from Boston, and they just told him on the phone – *cries* – what a crybaby I am! They’re going to use the money they’re going to raise to buy him a 2017 pickup truck.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Bouchard’s sister, to help pay to replace household items lost in the fire.