Neighbor Saved Two from Fatal Fire
Days after a fatal fire took the lives of five children 1248 W. 11th St. in Erie, neighbor Joseph Kiehlmeier is still in shock.
"I mean I can't believe it, it's something you'll never be able to put in the past ever," Kiehlmeier said.
His quick actions that night helped keep the casualties from being even greater. While out on his porch to smoke a cigarette Kiehlmeier heard a "blood curdling" scream.
"Something's not right," he said to his girlfriend.
He and his girlfriend jumped from their porch and ran down to the home about a block away from their own.
"When we got closer to the house the kids were coming out of the front window," Kiehlmeier said.
The father of two saw two adolescents positioned on the second floor roof as the fire began to rage inside. Kiehlmeier asked the two kids to jump off the roof so he could catch them. The first sat on the side of a gutter and leaped into Kiehlmeier's arms. The second did the same as flames could be seen coming out of the side windows of the home according to Kiehlmeier. Neighbors who witnessed it were amazed by the scene.
"It was a surreal moment," one neighbor Rawchaen Clarke said.
"He told them to jump and they jumped," neighbor Stephen August said.
"I give it to he guy who helped the kids off the roof," neighbor OJ Jones said. "I saw them on the roof and as they were jumping off he was catching them."
After the two were safe, Kiehlmeier then attempted to get into the home. Breaking in the front door and crawling through the living room, he called out to see if any others needed help, but by that time the smoke was already unbearable.
"It just got extra black, extra fast and then everything just went up all around me. I knew it was either I had to backtrack or I probably wouldn't be able to find my way back out," Kiehlmeier said.
The smoke he inhaled during his time inside forced him to be hospitalized for two days. Despite his physical injuries, he's grateful for how the community has responded to this tragedy.
"I'm just glad to see the community coming together as a whole, for these mothers and these kids," Kiehlmeier said. "It's just absolutely horrible what happened to these kids and I hope and pray every night for them."