OAK PARK – Jay Kaplan, staff attorney at the Michigan ACLU LGBT Project, suffered burns and lost his entire house and car in a fire May 18. He was taken from the scene to Beaumont Hospital by EMS and soon transferred to Detroit Receiving HospitalÕs burn unit where he was treated for first and second degree burns, mostly on his legs. He was released May 20 and is currently staying with his parents.
Mike Steinberg and Shelli Weisberg of the Michigan ACLU released a statement detailing the chain of events. ÒOn May 18 at about 3 p.m., Jay was hooking up a new propane canister to the grill on his deck. He heard some hissing coming from the line, so he tightened it up and thought everything was okay. However, when he lit the grill, the flame extended down to the tank and the deck immediately caught on fire. Jay stepped into fire to try to shut off the canister, but it was too hot and he went to get a fire extinguisher. It is during this attempt to turn off the canister that he suffered the burns. The fire spread extremely fast and the flames soon reached 25 feet high. The fire department came quickly, but Jay’s house is pretty much destroyed, as is his car, which was parked in the garage. Fortunately, nobody else was hurt.”
The LGBT community’s outpouring of support for Kaplan has been impressive. In addition to hundreds of social media posts, cards, and emails, fellow activists at Unity Michigan quickly set up a fund online to raise money for Kaplan. In less than 24 hours the fund raised over $6,000. “Jay Kaplan gives so much to all of us. It’s our turn to give back. After suffering burns and a loss of property, friends of Jay Kaplan decided to set up this fund in lieu of sending flowers. Please contribute today to show Jay your support,” reads the statement on the front page of the donation site http://www.gofundme.com/2zhso0.
Kaplan is expected to be out of work at least several weeks while recovering from the burns.