Eau Claire Fire Department
January 23, 1995, the Eau Claire Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire on 1st Avenue. Lieutenant Kim Nessel, Firefighter David Okas, and Firefighter Wayne Klett of Engine 2 arrived first to the scene. Fire and smoke were clearly visible in the four-unit, two-story apartment building.
A woman met Lt. Nessel at the sidewalk and told him that her 1-year-old baby was trapped in the first floor bedroom and could only be gotten by the back door. Trying to get in the back of the building, Lt. Nessel was met with heavy fire and smoke making in impossible to advance. The crew then positioned in front of the building and made forcible entry through the front door. Lt. Nessel made a search of a first floor bedroom and found the baby in his crib.
With the ceiling falling down upon them, and the temperature rising, Lt. Nessel found the doors had closed, trapping him and the baby in the bedroom. Firefighters Okas and Klett quickly assisted in the rescue by forcing the doors back open and directing Lt. Nessel and the baby out of the room. At the moment the crew and baby exited the bedroom, much of the first floor flashed over and engulfed them. The crew spilled out onto the front porch, their turnout clothing was smoking and their face shields were blackened from the heat. Lt. Nessel protected Baby Nicholas until handing him over to Engineer Bill Klee, who performed CPR on him until the Rescue Company could take over and transport him to the hospital.
After reassembline, the Engine 2 crew reentered the building to continue the search for other possible victims. None were in the building.
Sadly, little Nicholas Adank later passed away, but he had been given the greatest chance of living because of the heroic efforts of Firefighters Nessel, Okas, and Klett.