Town Rallies Behind Disabled Veteran Who Lost Home In A Fire

GRANBY, Mass. (CBS/AP) — A small western Massachusetts town is rallying behind a Marine veteran severely injured while serving in Afghanistan whose custom-built home was made uninhabitable by fire the day after Christmas.

Sgt. Joshua Bouchard, who uses a wheelchair after losing part of a leg and suffering a spinal cord injury in an explosion in 2009, saved himself and his two dogs when he realized his Granby home was on fire Monday night.

Sgt. Joshua Bouchard's custom-built home was destroyed in a fire just after Christmas. (Photo courtesy of WWLP)

Sgt. Joshua Bouchard’s custom-built home was destroyed in a fire just after Christmas. (Photo courtesy of WWLP)

“I honestly haven’t had this much excitement since Afghanistan to be honest,” Bouchard said.

He smelled smoke, went outside and saw the smoke pouring from the garage. When he opened the door, the gas tanks to his car and his lawnmower exploded, knocking him out of his wheelchair.

What he did next was just second nature. “A combat roll, like you’re avoiding fire, which technically I was,” Bouchard said.

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,” he said.

Bouchard was treated for smoke inhalation.

The home was built by volunteers with the nonprofit Homes for Our Troops program.

Sgt. Joshua Bouchard's home was built in 2012. (Photo courtesy of WWLP)

Sgt. Joshua Bouchard’s home was built in 2012. (Photo courtesy of WWLP)

A gofundme.com page set up by Bouchard’s sister had raised almost nearly $22,500 on Wednesday, exceeding the $15,000 goal.

“Joshua and our family are deeply saddend (sic) over the loss of this amazing home that has done so much for Joshua’s rehabilitation,” the GoFundMe page says. “At this time, Joshua could use the funds received on this gofundme for a new wheelchair, prosthetics, and all household items lost in the fire.”

Sgt. Bouchard lost his home, his prosthetic leg, his wheelchair and more in the fire. (Photo courtesy of WWLP)

Sgt. Bouchard lost his home, his prosthetic leg, his wheelchair and more in the fire. (Photo courtesy of WWLP)

According to WWLP, Bouchard also lost his wheelchair and $15,000 prosthetic leg to the fire. Lee Lalonde of Center Pharmacy donated a new wheelchair to Bouchard, WWLP reports.

Bouchard says he has been through so much the fire “didn’t stress me out much.”

Josh’s father, James Bouchard, says a motorcycle club from Boston is going to raise money to buy his son a new pickup truck.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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