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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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