First Responders Share Story of Saving Baby From Burning House

First Responders Share Story of Saving Baby From Burning House

Nokomis Police officer Garry Knebel said Tuesday he tried twice to rescue 18-month-old Ada Carlson before the fire department arrived.

"I attempted," Knebel said. "Got up there, got disoriented. I couldn't see. The heat, the smoke, everything. I ran back down. Ran back outside. Running by the family again made it worse because I came out empty handed."

But Nokomis Fire Protection came to the rescue. Volunteer Captain Michael Smalley said he still isn't sure how he got out of that building alive.

"The question of the day for me is how I ended up upside-down on the stairs. I don't know, but we're out, she's out, and doing pretty well right now."

And Knebel was there to catch him on the stairs, but said just minutes earlier, things looked bleak.

"It sounded like the whole roof was coming down. The whole top, so I thought we were done. This was it."

Ada was saved, and eventually taken to St. John's Hospital. The First Baptist Church set up a fund to get the Carlson family back on its feet.

"We had a dozen or so volunteers in the fellowship hall, and donations started pouring in," Pastor Ryan Follis said. "My phone was off the hook."

The community donated so much that the family is now renting a fully furnished house, which was previously vacant, with a bedroom, kitchen, and even new plumbing.

Smalley says you don't often get this kind of happy ending.

"Unreal...the emotions have been unreal for me. Especially compounded by knowing the family. It's an unreal feeling. I don't think I can even describe it."

You can donate to the fund to help by calling either the Nokomis First Baptist Church, at 217-563-8836, or the Nokomis First National Bank, at 217-563-8311.

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