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'I just yelled Help, help!'; One survivor describes Monday's fire in Kiel

Posted at 4:13 PM, Jan 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-02 22:45:50-05
  • Just before 8 P.M. on Monday, the Kiel Fire Department responded to smoke alarm going off at an apartment complex.
  • The fire department was able to rescue everyone who was inside. Five people went to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and 25 people lost their homes as a result of the fire.
  • Zachary Gates lives on the second floor of the building. He described escaping the burning structure and said that it was unlike anything he has ever been through.

An apartment fire in Kiel on New Year’s Day has forced 25 people out of their homes. Some people were injured. I spoke exclusively with one man who described the experience as something he has never been through before.
"I could hear someone running up and down the hallway yelling, 'get out, get out, get out!',” said Zachary Gates, who lives in the apartment complex in Kiel.

He said when he heard the yell, he headed for the door.

"My keys, phone, grabbed that,” Gates said. “Opened my door and there was a big black wall of smoke."

Investigators say that smoke began to set off alarms just before 8 p.m. Monday. Firefighters got to the building in time to help Zach.

"When I got down there, I just yelled, 'help, help!’,” Zach explained. “The firefighters and first responders who were on scene were fantastic, they jumped right into action."

The firefighters were able to rescue everyone inside without serious injury, although five people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

"I’d just say thank you,” said Gates. “I know I work with some of them who are on the New Holstein Fire Department, the Kiel Fire Department, so I’d just say thanks."

In total 23 apartments were damaged and 25 people are without homes now, including Zach, who is now wondering when he'll be able to return.

"It's hard. You know when you go home you kind of have that sense of security when you close your door,” he said. “This is mine, this is where I live and that is kind of taken away from you. It's hard to deal with."

We're told the Red Cross will be helping the 25 people displaced by the fire. For Zach, he tells me that he's decided to look to the positives and be thankful for his safety.