Council Bluffs chief recalls rescues at
Houston Chronicle, with permission
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Around 7:30 p.m. last Friday night, an Iowa fire department got the call that two children were trapped in a house fire.
“That’s a once in a lifetime call, a once in a career call,” said Council Bluffs Fire Chief Justin James.
He said when crews arrived to the home, heavy smoke was coming out of the upstairs apartment. That’s where brothers Jameson Haas and Ezekiel Adkins were trapped inside.
“You’re looking for a needle in the haystack in the dark and you’re on a timer,” James said.
Firefighters found 3-year-old James in the bathroom and 1-year-old Ezekiel in the next room.
“It’s not easy to find a child that’s 20 inches long, inside a burning building where you can’t see your hand in front of your face and everything is starting to fall down,” he said.
The chief said in just 30 minutes the fire was out and the children were rescued and at the hospital.
“If you’re in that moment, that’s the moment you train for,” he said.
Paramedics took Ezekiel’s dad, Sheldon Adkins, to the hospital after attempting to rescue the boys. He has no injuries.
Jameson was treated and released for smoke inhalation and slight burns. Ezekiel was flown from Council Bluffs to a burn center in Lincoln and then Iowa City for treatment. The 18-month-old has burns covering 60% of his body.
Fire investigators reported the cause of the fire to be the result of juvenile fire play.
James said that night, fire crews were “as good as it gets” and that the first responders “gave a second chance with seconds to spare.”
“The guys that get to go make the grab are just one piece of the puzzle. There’s a whole bunch of other things that need to line up and everyone has to know their part, otherwise those guys don’t get that chance,” he said.
Ezekiel’s aunt said the toddler has lung and brain damage and issues with blood flow. He had his first skin surgery Tuesday and will have another next week.
She sent this statement to sister station KETV on behalf of the family: “We want to thank the first responders who saved our boys that night. We will forever be so grateful for you! And thank you to our friends, family and community for all the love, support and prayers. Our little man is one hell of a fighter and we will fight and pray right alongside him all the way to recovery!”
The family is asking for a continue of prayers and support. They have a GoFundMe set up to help with Ezekiel’s medical treatment and recovery. To donate, click here.