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Extinguishing the burden: Wyoming community rallies around displaced seniors

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-18 18:03:38-04

WYOMING, Mich. – In the days following a fire that left nearly two dozen people displaced, staff members with Bayberry Farms Village senior retirement center say the Wyoming community is displaying incredible compassion.

“Actually it’s brought a lot of us together, which is really fantastic,” said facility manager Shaké Broukian. “I think everyone has just been so grateful…it’s so nice to see everybody coming together.”

Even before fire crews arrived when the fire broke out around 2 p.m. Saturday, community members were supporting the residents. Several witnesses-turned-first responders saw the flames as they spread, and ran to lend a hand.

“We were just going up and down the hallways, opening the doors, grabbing people [and] animals,” said Lisa Colella, a staff member at nearby Monelli’s Italian Grill who saw the flames as she pulled into work.

“We were just trying to go as quickly as possible. There were people that had wheelchairs, walkers, moving slowly.”

28 people are still displaced, but Bayberry management hopes to have the majority of them back in their homes by the end of the week. They’re still waiting on clearance from a structural engineering report, set to take place this week.

In  the meantime, Broukian says they’ve received countless outreach offers from local police and fire departments, businesses, other senior living facilities and restaurants, including Monelli’s, who brought water and food to shaken up residents the day of the fire.

“It was nice,” said Colella. “It was nice to see that there are other people in this world that have a heart. That’s how everybody should be.”

Fire crews have determined that the flames originated on a second floor balcony, but don’t know exactly how. Bayberry management also told FOX 17 that their fire alarms were determined to be functional at the time of the incident.