Wounded Marine vet's home ravaged in Granby fire, 'combat roll' saves dogs w/ VIDEO

  • Firefighters battled a blaze at 48 Chicopee St.  on the night of Dec. 26, 2016. The home is owned by U.S. Marine veteran Joshua Bouchard. No one was injured.  —Emily Cutts

  • James Bouchard of Granby talks about how his son, Marine veteran Joshua Bouchard, was able to escape uninjured from a fire that consumed his own Granby home, in background, on Monday evening, December 26, 2016, and managed to save his two dogs in the process. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Center Pharmacy in Granby offered this wheelchair to Marine veteran Joshua Bouchard after a fire consumed his home along with his wheelchairs on Monday, December 26, 2016, —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Joshua Bouchard talks Tuesday about escaping a fire that consumed his Granby home late Monday night. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Retired Marine veteran Joshua Bouchard escaped a fire that consumed his Granby home late Monday night, December 26, 2016, using this wheelchair. After leaving through the garage, Bouchard hit a rock, came off the wheelchair and did a "combat roll" back to his front door in order to let his two dogs out. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Fire Capt. George Randall, left, and James Bouchard on Tuesday survey the home of Bouchard’s son, Joshua Bouchard, which was consumed by a fire Monday night. The younger Bouchard, a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, was using the wheelchair at left when he escaped through the garage, uninjured. Bouchard said he then came off the wheelchair after hitting a rock and was able to do a “combat roll” over to the front door to save his two dogs. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • George Randall, left, and James Bouchard, both of Granby, on Tuesday survey the home of Bouchard's son, Joshua Bouchard, which was consumed by a fire Monday evening, December 26, 2016, in Granby. The younger Bouchard, a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, was using the wheelchair at left when he escaped through the garage, uninjured. Bouchard said he then came off the wheelchair after hitting a rock and was able to do a "combat roll" over to the front door to save his two dogs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Marine veteran Joshua Bouchard talks Tuesday about escaping a fire that consumed his Granby home late Monday night, December 26, 2016. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 12/27/2016 1:56:07 PM

GRANBY — Firefighters spent nearly an hour Monday night battling a fire that ravaged the home of wounded U.S. Marine veteran Joshua Bouchard, whose house was built for him by volunteers four years ago.

The blaze at 48 Chicopee St. was reported at around 9:30 p.m. and appears to have started with a vehicle fire in the home’s garage, according to the Granby Fire Department.

After escaping his house and rescuing his dogs, Bouchard, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, spent about six hours at Holyoke Medical Center. He was taken there by ambulance as a precaution for smoke inhalation. James Bouchard, Joshua’s father, said Joshua suffered smoke inhalation.

“Honestly, I’ve been through so much it didn’t stress me out much,” Joshua Bouchard said outside his charred home Tuesday morning. “I haven’t had this much excitement since 2009.”

Bouchard lost a leg and suffered a spine injury from an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2009 that took the lives of two Marines, one of whom was a close friend. He had moved into the home in January 2013 at age 29. The effort to build his home was spearheaded by the Homes for Our Troops program in Taunton and involved hundreds of area volunteers who helped raise money and build the one-floor, three-bedroom home.

Parked in the driveway of his house surrounded by friends and family on Tuesday morning, Joshua Bouchard said he was “doing all right” considering what happened. He said he was glad to see his flag was still flying on its pole in front of his house.

“It’s been pretty hectic,” he said of the last 24 hours.

“I can’t believe it happened,” James Bouchard, Joshua’s father, and a fellow Marine who was wounded serving in Vietnam.

Bouchard was watching a movie with his two dogs, Coconut and Trevi, when he smelled smoke, according to James Bouchard. Joshua went out to the garage to check and found a ball of fire coming from the catalytic converter of a vehicle, according to James.

Joshua Bouchard said he became trapped in the garage for about two minutes as he struggled to get the automatic garage door open. Once outside, he went toward the front door to free his dogs but hit a rock with his wheelchair and fell out. From there, Bouchard said he combat-rolled to the locked front door.

“Like you’re avoiding fire, which I technically was,” Bouchard said. “I think my experiences in the military is absolutely what saved me.”

With his keys in the car, Bouchard was forced to break the door to free the dogs.

In addition to basic household items and clothing, Bouchard lost about $100,000 worth of wheelchairs as well as his $15,000 prosthetic leg.

“All material. All replaceable,” he said. “My life is fine. My dogs lives are fine.”

The elder Bouchard said that when he went to pick up Joshua’s prescription, a Granby pharmacy ended up donating a wheelchair.

Granby Fire Capt. George Randall said that when firefighters arrived, the garage was fully engulfed in flames. He said the blaze caused an estimated $300,000 in damages and that the home is uninhabitable.

“There is extensive damage to the roof area of the house,” Randall said.

Randall said the fire took about 45 minutes to bring under control and noted that battling it was personal for many of the firefighters who helped raise money and build Bouchard’s home, among other activities to support the wounded veteran.

“It was a very emotional fire for us,” Randall said. “As a department, we watched it get built.”

From the first day his son came home after being injured, James Bouchard said, the community has been there for him. For now, Joshua, 34, and his dogs will stay with his dad.

In four hours, a GoFundMe page set up for Bouchard raised more than $3,100 toward a $10,000 goal. The page can be found at www.gofundme.com/joshua-bouchard-house-fire.

The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the blaze. Several area fire departments responded with mutual aid, including South Hadley Fire Districts 1 and 2, as well as fire crews from Belchertown, Ludlow, Ware and Westover Air Reserve Base.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.




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