Quick thinking likely saved Kevin Hein, who was trapped on the roof of a burning country house roughly three miles east of Durham on Feb. 22.
Dispatchers initially received a phone call from a man who said his father called him to say there was a fire and he was on a roof.
Durham fire was first on scene at 280th and Kanza Rds., and confirmed to dispatchers it was a structure on fire, so Hillsboro and Tampa fires also were called.
When Hillsboro fire chief Ben Steketee arrived on scene, smoke was coming from the house, and Hein was visible on a first-floor roof.
“He probably was on the second floor and made his way out of a window onto that roof,” Steketee said.
With a ladder truck still on the way from Hillsboro, firefighters found an aluminum ladder that would reach Hein, but the question was how to get him down.
“He was needing help,” Steketee said, “so his son, thinking quickly, went and got a (front-end) loader.”
Firefighters on the roof assisted Hein into the bucket of the loader. One firefighter rode down with him to make sure he did not fall out.
Hein was then was taken by ambulance to Hillsboro Community Hospital, and was later transported to Hillsboro airport where he was airlifted to an unspecified regional hospital.
“He was in bad enough condition from breathing in all the smoke that he was a little confused as to what was going on,” Steketee said.
Firefighters then fanned out the smoke from the home, located the fire, and quickly put it out.
“We were wondering how we would get him down from there,” Steketee said. “That was pretty quick thinking.”
Steketee said the incident was mainly a content fire, with smoke damage and content inside of the home burning. There was no structural damage.
Other than the man’s smoke inhalation and a firefighter who received a cut on a hand, Steketee said it was a successful fire fight.
“Everybody worked together,” Steketee said. “It was a good outcome.”
The cause of the fire was still undetermined as of Tuesday afternoon.