An early morning fire Saturday at North 34th Street and Avenue C in Council Bluffs claimed the life of a 4-year-old boy.
Police identified the child as Leland Johnson.
Fire and rescue crews were called to the home around 6 a.m. The first units on the scene reported the home "fully engulfed" in flames.
Police said when firefighters arrived they were told that a child was trapped upstairs. Firefighters struggled through the raging flames, but weren't able to get the child out until about 20 minutes later. Johnson was taken to Mercy Hospital were he died a short time later.
“My fianceé looked out the window and thought it was a garage on fire and I said no, that's my house.” Larry Pracht lives around the corner and owns the home that caught fire. He rushed over to help and heard a boy was still trapped inside.
“It caught on fire instantly. The whole porch was in flames. My reaction when I heard there was a boy upstairs, my reaction was only for the boy. Tried to figure out how I could get to him.”
Pracht went around to the back door, but it was locked, so he kicked the door in. “As soon as you opened that door up it was instant smoke. It was just a wall of smoke.”
The mother and two other children were able to escape.
Pracht said the family had lived in the home for two years. He wished he could have done more. “I'm still shaken about the whole thing. I just wish I could have helped. I feel sorry for everything that happened, especially the little boy dying.”
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.