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Thread: Muscatine, Iowa Firefighter Dies While Fighting Blaze

  1. #1
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    Muscatine, Iowa Firefighter Dies While Fighting Blaze

    Muscatine, Iowa Firefighter Dies While Fighting Blaze
    27-Year Veteran Succumbs to Injuries

    CHRISTOPH TRAPPE
    Courtesy Muscatine Journal News


    MUSCATINE, Iowa - A 27-year veteran of the Muscatine, Iowa Fire Department lost his life during a Saturday night fire, marking the department's first death of an on-duty firefighter.

    Around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, firefighters responded to a house fire at the corner of East Sixth and Orange streets. Two firefighters were hoisted to the roof of the building to ventilate the house.

    One of them, Michael Kruse, 53, fell to his death through the roof, said Muscatine Fire Chief Steve Dalbey. He declined to release the name of the other firefighter who was on top of the roof. No other injuries were reported.

    "There was so much heat and smoke built up inside, so they cut a hole in the roof to relieve it," Dalbey said. "It seemed like things were happening all at once."

    Dalbey said he wasn't sure how and why Kruse fell through the roof. Dalbey said Kruse was the first on-duty firefighter fatality in Muscatine since the city started its full-time department in the early 1900s.

    Other firefighters pulled Kruse from the building and transported him to Unity Hospital where he died, Dalbey said.

    The building's roof was soon engulfed in flames.

    Many were in shock Sunday as the news sunk in about the death of this lifelong Muscatine resident.

    "He always had a smile on his face; we can't believe this happened," said Betty Kruse, Michael Kruse's aunt. "It was just one of those things. He would have been off this (Sunday) morning."

    "He was kind of a quiet guy, very dedicated to the fire service," Dalbey said. "When it came time to do work he was all business, very detail-oriented."

    Muscatine's central fire station was unusually quiet Sunday morning.

    "This is unreal," said Assistant Fire

    Chief Jerry Ewers, while another person stopped by to express his sympathies at the fire station.

    Counselors from the Quad-Cities came to the Public Safety Building to meet with firefighters for a critical incident debriefing Sunday morning, Dalbey said.

    Some people called the fire station throughout the day to express their sympathies. At least one area neighbor, Julie Stauffer, stopped by to drop off flowers, sticking out of miniature firefighter boots.

    Stauffer and her mother, Marlene Anderson, live at 608 E. Sixth St., their home of 41 years, which is across the street from the fire scene.

    They watched the smoke fill the midnight air. Their good friend, Darlene Adams, stood next to them. Adams lived at the ravaged building until two years ago.

    "I'm devastated," Adams said early Sunday morning, standing a half block away from the fire scene. "I owned it for like 18 years."

    She lived there for 37 and sold it to Connie Damerville, who lived at the brick building with her son, Don, according to the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

    The Red Cross hosted Damerville and her son at Muscatine's Holiday Inn for at least Sunday and Monday night and provided vouchers for clothes and groceries, said Dave Carlson, the Red Cross volunteer who responded to the scene.

    "They were very distraught," Carlson said. "They had all their belongings in there and all was lost."

    Until about five or six years ago, Adams ran her Fitness in Motion, exercise shop out of the building's side that faces Sixth Street. Before that, a monument store operated out of the space while Adams and her family lived in the rest of the building.

    The majority of firefighters remained on the scene until 3:30 Sunday morning and the investigation into the cause of the fire and the fall continued throughout the day. The Muscatine fire and police departments and the Iowa State Fire Marshall's Office are investigating.

    Muscatine police blocked off traffic to the scene one block in each direction.

    Firefighters were fighting the fire from several sides and from the top, out of the ladder truck's bucket.

    Arrangements are pending at Geo. M. Wittich-Lewis Funeral Home.


    http://www.firehouse.com/lodd/2002/ia_sep14b.html

  2. #2
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    Iowa Firefighter Falls Through Roof

    Iowa Firefighter Falls Through Roof
    27-Year Veteran Succumbs to Injuries

    DAVE J. IANNONE
    Firehouse.com News

    A 27-year veteran of the Muscatine, Iowa Fire Department died Saturday night after falling through the roof at a structure fire,

    Michael Kruse, 53, and a second firefighter were working on the roof when Kruse fell in, according to Assistant Chief Jerry Ewers. The second firefighter was not injured. Kruse was transported to Unity Hospital in Muscatine where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

    The fire broke out at about 10:30 p.m. local time Saturday night in the three-story building at the corner of Orange and East 6th Street. The mixed-use structure had apartments on the top two floors and a vacant storefront on the ground level.

    Kruse, who would have turned 54 later this month, leaves behind two children -- a son and daughter -- and a girlfriend, Ewers said.

    Funeral and memorial arrangements were expected to be announced Monday.

    The cause of the fire and the circumstances surrounding the tragedy were under investigation by the Muscatine Fire Department, Muscatine Police Department, and the Iowa Fire Marshall's office.

    According to its Web site, the Muscatine Fire Department is a 32 member paid department consisting of three shifts of ten Firefighters, a Fire Marshal, and the Fire Chief.

    Further details will be posted as they become available.


    http://www.firehouse.com/lodd/2002/ia_sep14.html

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    Kruse, Michael

    Age: 53
    Rank: Firefighter
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 09/14/2002
    Incident Time: 22:30
    Death Date: 09/14/2002

    Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
    Nature of Death:
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Duty Type: Fireground Operations
    Activity Type: Advancing Hose Lines/Fire Attack
    Fixed Prop. Use: Residential

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Muscatine Fire Department
    312 East Fifth Street, Suite 2
    Muscatine, Iowa 52761
    Chief: Steve Dalbey

    Initial Summary:
    While operating at the scene of a structure fire, Firefighter Kruse became trapped when a structural collapse of the roof occured. Firefighter Kruse was recovered and transported to the hospital where he later died.



    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application....cfm?p_id=1341

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    Fire that Claimed Muscatine, Iowa Firefighter Ruled Accidental

    Fire that Claimed Muscatine, Iowa Firefighter Ruled Accidental

    CHRISTOPH TRAPPE
    Courtesy Muscatine Journal News


    MUSCATINE, Iowa - Muscatine firefighters put up a large American flag at the site where their comrade of 27 years died this weekend.

    Michael Kruse, 53, fell through the roof of a house at the corner of Orange and Sixth streets. Kruse and another firefighter were on top of the house to cut a hole in the roof, trying to ventilate the house, when the incident occurred. The other firefighter was not injured and did not fall.

    Investigators ruled the fire to be accidental, resulting from the failure of electrical wiring between the ceiling of the second and third-level floors.

    As investigators wrapped up determining the cause of the fire, some people stopped by to drop off flowers and other memorials.

    "I was just so touched by it," said Cathy Lee, who dropped off flowers over her lunch hour. "I think the work (firefighters) do is fantastic."

    She added she didn't know Kruse but wanted to honor him. He leaves behind a son of Iowa City and a daughter of Germany.

    An old firefighter's uniform was put on top of a nearby stop sign and Muscatine police officers signed a makeshift memorial, accompanied by a fireman's prayer.

    Muscatine Fire Chief Steve Dalbey said he couldn't say yet if everything was done according to rules or what, if anything, firefighters will change in the future in response to the accident.

    "It again reminded us of the hazards of operations," Dalbey said. "These things happen and it doesn't mean they are preventable."

    The two firefighters were hoisted on top of the building, as is standard operating procedure during a large house fire such as Saturday's.

    "It's only a reminder they catch us by surprise," Dalbey said. "We may be able to address the safety issue but there's really nothing you can do if a roof collapses."

    Neither firefighter was tied to the ladder when they got on the roof, Dalbey said. None usually are but firefighters can be strapped into the bucket as the ladder truck lifts them, he said.

    "We are investigating mechanics and when we have a better idea we'll let you know," Dalbey said.

    The roof collapsed underneath Kruse and he fell through the structure. He later died at Unity Hospital from his injuries.

    Muscatine Fire Marshal Steve Ryder said an attack team was entering the structure from below as Kruse and his partner cut the hole in the roof. At first, they were unsure if residents were still in the building. None of the resident's two occupants were home at the time. They could not be reached for comment Monday.

    "There is a massive amount of smoke in there," Ryder said. "The best tools we have is to use the truck company and get to the uppermost part of the structure, cut it open and vent through a hole."

    He added once the hole is ventilating the house, gas and smoke rushes out and allows better visibility for the attack team inside the home to look for occupants.

    Before, with all the smoke, visibility was worse, he said.

    Firefighters continued mourning at the fire station Monday.

    Keokuk Fire Chief Mark Wessel came to Muscatine to help out, said Assistant Muscatine Fire Chief Jerry Ewers. Wessel lost three of his own firefighters in 1999.

    "He's helping us out with logistics," Ewers said. "He's been through this."



    http://www.firehouse.com/lodd/2002/ia_sep14c.html

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    Muscatine, Iowa: 'We will miss Kruse'

    Muscatine, Iowa: 'We will miss Kruse'

    CHRISTOPH TRAPPE
    Courtesy Muscatine Journal News


    MUSCATINE, Iowa - A firefighter bell rang nine times to conclude Michael Kruse's 27-year firefighting career Wednesday night during a memorial service at Muscatine High School.

    Firefighter honor guards from throughout the state, the Muscatine Police Department and Muscatine County Sheriff's Office escorted the casket into the MHS gym. A total of 460 chairs on the gym floor and about half the bleacher seats were filled by mourners honoring the fallen comrade.

    "Firefighters are always associated with the ringing of the bell," Fire Chief Steve Dalbey said.

    A hushed silence fell over the gym as the bell pealed.

    Kruse died Saturday night from injuries he sustained while fighting a house fire at the corner of Sixth and Orange streets. The roof Kruse and his partner were ventilating at the time collapsed. His partner was unharmed.

    Kruse was known as "Col. Kruse," "Capt. Kruse" and simply as "Kruse" by his fellow firefighters, said firefighter June Anne Gaeta during the service.

    "I've only known him for a short eight years," said Gaeta, who maintained her composure throughout her tribute. "We will miss Kruse in our firefighter community."

    Gaeta and Kruse worked together at the Southend fire station. She told the audience how detail-minded Kruse was and how he broke in new Southend lieutenants.

    "When Kruse cleaned, you were guaranteed you could eat dinner off it and get no speck of dirt," she said.

    During their time together, they saw three firefighters promoted before moving to higher ranks.

    "Mike was their comfort," Gaeta said. "He knew every street and almost every address down south.

    "The lieutenant knew he had everything covered and he passed that on to everybody."

    The Southend station is usually staffed by two firefighters and the lieutenant.

    On another time, Kruse slid down the pole in the fire station to head to a call. He hit the floor hard and broke his ankle, Gaeta recalled.

    The supervisor didn't notice the accident and Kruse kept going. He drove the ladder truck to the house fire, climbed on the roof and cut a hole in the roof.

    When he came back down he excused himself to head to the emergency room.

    "We all respected Mike," Gaeta said.

    Louie Wright, of the International Association of Fire Fighters, presented Kruse's grandson, Michael, with a plaque.

    "Firefighters routinely face life-threatening situations," Wright said earlier during the service. "He or she doesn't lose their lives, but gives it away."

    Mayor Dick O'Brien extended condolences to Kruse's family from city staff.

    "He knew the job was not without risk and he accepted the challenge to serve a community," O'Brien said. "He served well."

    Gov. Tom Vilsack flew in to honor Kruse.

    "Tonight we pay our respect to one of our heroes," he said.

    At the end of the service, Kathryn Kruse, Michael Kruse's mother, walked to the front. A picture of her son with his grandson on his lap was placed there. She softly kissed it.

    Then she followed the casket, surrounded by other firefighters, out the door of the gym.



    http://www.firehouse.com/lodd/2002/ia_sep14d.html

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