Local Family Loses Home in Early Morning House Fire

Friends and neighbors rally around family organizing donations and support.

Brighton Township residents Jeff and Janele Hillstrom, along with their five children, an adult relative and the family dog all made it out safely of a burning home early this morning.

The family lost everything in the fire.

Residents of the neighborhood off Taylor Road in Brighton Township woke up to chaos as the home on Woodlore Court went up in flames in the early morning hours of Sept. 12. 

"There were at least 10 firetrucks lined up and down our street," neighbor Amy Roach said. “The house is gone. What is there is black.”

Brighton Area Fire Chief Mike O'Brian said the fire originated in the garage and crews arrived around 1 a.m. to find the house fully involved. O'Brian said the area did not have hydrants, so firefighters were tied up trying to bring water to the site.

The house was a total loss and Fire investigators are on scene today. O'Brian said there may not be a full report due to the extent of the damage.

O'Brian said Hartland, Green Oak Township and Milford Fire Departments assisted on the scene, accounting for all of the fire trucks neighbors saw.

Friends and neighbors have already rallied around the family with donations being accepted at .

“I’m just amazed at the steady flow of people who have come into the coffee shop to bring clothes, backpacks all kinds of stuff for this family,” Cathy Jones, owner of Kahuna Coffee said. “I’m almost in tears to see how the community comes together in second like that to help the family.” 

Roach, neighbor Karen Fox and members of the Hartland Moms group are organizing efforts to help get the family the supplies and essential items needed. Community members are encouraged to drop off items any time during business hours during the next few days, according to Roach, which will be delivered to the family.

School supplies, gift cards and cash are the top most requested items, Roach said.

With five children, daughters in third, sixth and eighth grade and two older sons, 16 and 18, the family will also be in need of clothing items. 


  • Size 7 or 8 shirts; size 7 pants
  • Size small to medium shirts; size 12 pants
  • Size small shirts; size 0 or 1 pants


  • Size medium medium shirts; size 29 or 30 pants
  • Size medium shirts; size 32 by 32 pants

The family is also in need of a home to rent and furniture, according to Roach and is asking anyone with information regarding available homes, to leave messages at Kahuna Coffee.

Brighton Patch Editor Nicole Krawcke contributed to this story.

Karen Fox September 13, 2012 at 02:31 AM
The outpour of donations from this community is amazing! The family still needs to go through all the donations from today and figure out what they have and what they still need. This will take some time as they are still trying to cope with the tragedy. Amy Roach or myself, will certainly post updates as either of us have this information. Thank you to all the wonderful people who came out to Kahuna Coffee this morning! Janele & Jeff are very appreciative.
Elisa Bidus September 13, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Karen, should we give these to Cathy at Kahuna? Or to you? Can they also use any type of gift cards from local businesses?
Kristan Thayer September 13, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Hi Karen, I work at Tenneco where Jeff is employed. I have a lot of extra furniture including a sofa, love seat, futon, trundle bed, lamps, in my basement not being used at this time. We would be more than happy to let their family use these items for as long as they need once they find a place to rent. Please contact me at specialk4@aol.com when they are in need of these items. Thanks, Kristan
Karen Fox September 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Thank you Kristan! Jeff & Janele are very appreciative of all the support they are receiving. As soon as the know where they will reside temporarily, until the home is rebuilt, they will know what items they will need. Elisa, Please continue to provide the donations to Cathy at Kahuna. She and Amy Roach, administrator of the 'Hartland Moms' facebook page and also a close friend & neighbor to the family has organized the drop off location at Kahuna.
Amy Roach September 30, 2012 at 12:55 PM
A funds been set up at the TCF Bank on M59 in Hartland. The Hillstrom Family Fund. Anyone who would stile to help can drop a donation t TCF. Thank YOu Hartland for your continued support for this family.


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