Update: Bluffs Man Dies from Injuries in House Fire

By: Brian Mastre, Brittany Gunter Email
By: Brian Mastre, Brittany Gunter Email

Posted December 26

A Council Bluffs man who was pulled from his burning home by firefighters on Sunday morning, has died. Robert Kissel, 90, died from his injuries Wednesday at the St. Elizabeth Burn Center in Lincoln, according to the Council Bluffs Fire Chief. Kissel's daughter escaped the fire through a basement window.

A smoke detector alerted Robin Krause to the fire that had engulfed the staircase early in the morning. It was the only exit.

She called 911 and punched out a screen on a basement window to get out.

Her father was unconscious in his bedroom when firefighters got inside.

Investigators are still in the process of determining a cause. Fire Chief Alan Byers says he may have an answer by the end of the week.

Posted December 23

A Council Bluffs family who lost a loved one last Easter has another tragedy two days before Christmas. Robert Kissel, 90, is in critical condition after a fire at his home Sunday morning. His daughter, Robin Krause, 59, escaped.

Dispatchers got a call from a resident of the house near Bennett and Adrian Avenues in Council Bluffs around 2:20 a.m. She heard the smoke detector, but her exit, the staircase, was on fire. “She calls and says she's trapped in the basement and her father's upstairs," said Fire Marshal Larry Wohlers. "Firefighters arrive right behind Council Bluffs police, they find she has self-rescued out the basement window." The woman was not hurt.

She was able to get out on her own through a window, but her father was trapped inside his upstairs bedroom. The flames had not entered the room, but the heat and smoke had. Firefighters found the man unconscious and he was taken to Creighton University Medical Center before being transferred to Saint Elizabeth's Burn Center in Lincoln.

“He's the best neighbor I ever had, best neighbor ever,” said Ryan Reeves. “He's always keeping an eye on things and watching out for us and trying to help. He has more stamina than most young people I know."

The family lost at least one pet in the fire. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

Council Bluffs fire investigators stress this is an example of smoke detectors saving lives. The department has a program called Project Alex, in honor of two children who died in fires two years ago without working alarms. The department will come to your residence and install new batteries or new detectors at no charge.

To schedule a time for them to check your detector or bring a new one, call 712-328-4672.

Omaha has a similar free program if you do not have a smoke detector in your home or apartment. The Omaha Fire Department will supply and install the detector in your home.

For installation, call the Public Education Bureau at 402-444-3560.

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