On December 22, 1999. Keokuk (Iowa) Assistant Fire Chief Dave McNally, 48, Firefighter Jason Bitting, 29, and Firefighter Nate Tuck, 39 were killed in the Line of Duty while attempting the rescue of 3 trapped kids in that fire-who also perished. The 3 Firefighters left 8 kids of their own behind. The Firefighters died when a flashover occurred while the 3 were doing their search. The fire started in the kitchen of an old wooden two-story b/f home that had been converted into apartments. Staffing is a major issue in Keokuk, and that morning, 4 of the 5 total (+ the Chief) on duty firefighters arrived on scene with heavy smoke showing, and upon hearing the mother screaming that her children were trapped inside, they immediately and understandably went in after them. When “Mom” screams that her kids are inside-we go in.
The 3 were inside, (the Asst Chief and 2 FF/pump operators) a Lt. was on the hydrant-couldn’t see the building and one Firefighter was on side “A”… starting to pack up, to back the interior members up. Chief Mark Wessell made the terribly difficult decision to leave the scene for 3 minutes to personally transport a non-breathing rescued child–there were no other resources available… none. The hospital was a minute away. When he returned, the flashover had already occurred with only the Lt. and the one Firefighter left outside. A/C Dave McNally, FF Jason Bitting, and FF Nate Tuck perished in that duplex. R.I.P.
Here is the excellent NIST recreation / simulation of this fire:
Here is an excellent NIOSH report on the fire:
NIOSH REPORT: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200004.html
The Secret List 12/22/2020-2030 hours