By Shawn Nowlin
Michael Grant Jr., a United Healthcare worker, and his wife, Dyan, a Salem Civic Center employee, have lived in Salem since 2006. The couple has two sons attending Salem City Public Schools, Michael III, 14, and Jaden, 12. Last Thursday, an accidental fire severely damaged their home on Azalea Street. The cause of the blaze was a kitchen grease fire.
As Michael Jr. explained, “My wife and I were at our grandson’s flag football practice on August 26. She asked our oldest son to warm up the grease in the kitchen so when we returned, we could cook some burgers and fries. After doing so, he walked away from it. Roughly 30 minutes later, Jaden happened to see smoke coming from his room. When he stepped in the hallway, he quickly realized just how bad things had gotten. The heat was so intense that they both almost passed out. Mike grabbed his dog, got he and his brother out the house safely and immediately gave us a call.”
When Michael Jr. and Dyan pulled around the corner about 7:30 p.m., all they could see was white smoke. Michael III was having a panic attack in the front yard, recalled Michael Jr, while Jaden seemed confused. As Dyan got closer to the house, she realized that it was coming from the kitchen window.
After it was reported, approximately 22 Salem Fire and EMS personnel responded to the fire within three minutes. Upon arriving on the scene, they saw heavy smoke coming from the house. The fire, according to a spokesperson, went through the roof, forcing crews to exit while the attic fire was extinguished. It took roughly 30-minutes to get the fire under control. Nearly everything that the Grants owned, including school supplies for the boys, was lost in the fire.
“The past few days have been really challenging for our family, especially Mike. He knows that we love him unconditionally, and this was a total accident. It’s important for us to try and return to some type of normalcy,” Michael Jr. said. “In recent days, we have stayed in a hotel. Until we can find a more staple residence, we will have to rely on friends and family. Both of our employers, as well as the community, have been overwhelmingly supportive, allowing us to get through this as best as possible.”
An estimated $300,000 in damages were caused as a result of the fire.
An online fundraiser, which is open for donations through Facebook, was created to help out the Grant family. Interested individuals can also contact the Salem Civic Center at 540-375-3004 directly and coordinate dropping off food, clothes or any other additional donations.
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