MALTA – Disaster struck for a family about 1 a.m. Thursday when a Malta volunteer firefighter and his family lost their home. Less than
48 hours later, the GoFundMe page set up to help them had raised more than $15,000.
Park Ridge Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen, who has known Michael Isom since they joined the Park Ridge department in 1997, said the fire was a tremendous surprise.
“We found out yesterday morning that he barely escaped the fire with his family,” he said. “It was a very scary situation.”
The family’s bloodhound, Earl, woke them up as smoke billowed through the single-family home in the 500 block of East Jefferson Street, according to the GoFundMe page started by Joe Ciske. Ciske is a Park Ridge firefighter and paramedic.
Sorensen said he and Isom have spent their whole careers together.
“We’ve been through the good and the bad,” Sorenson said. “We’re close. We’re not on the same shift anymore because I’m the chief, but we’ve remained friends.”
Sorensen referred to Isom and his family as “good people.”
“His dad was a firefighter for DeKalb Fire Department,” he said, painting Isom as a classic fireman.
“Mike is exactly who you want as a firefighter and paramedic,” he said. “He knows the job very well. He brings a lot of experience of working in the area where there’s not help. He’s experienced in how to handle things on the spot as best he can without help.”
Sorensen said Isom has been there a lot when people are dealing with tragedy.
“He’s certainly saved many lives in his career,” he said.
Sorensen said he thinks that’s one of the reasons why so many people have supported the Isoms on Facebook and the GoFundMe page.
More than donors had raised more than $19,000 of the $20,000 goal as of Sunday. Sorensen said that families many throughout Park Ridge and the DeKalb area have reached out to help his.
“He’s in pretty good spirits, all things considered,” Sorensen said. “He has an incredible personality and sense of humor. He’s dealt with a lot of tragedy, and I think it’s helping him.”
He said aside from the loss of their home, Isom and his family are OK, but they’ll need time. He said it was
“awesome” that so many people from the greater DeKalb and Park Ridge areas are there for the Isoms.
“It’s going to be a long process to rebuild their lives,” Sorensen said. “And Mike’s got plenty of time where he will not be here at work. He’s going to have the time he needs to get things straightened out.”
Those who want to donate to help the Isom family can visit www.gofundme.com/f/parkridgefirefightermikeisom.