Fire Survivor Thankful To Be Alive

A Council Bluffs man was fighting for his life last Tuesday on the floor of his smoke-filled apartment. He's alive to tell his story, thanks to the efforts of firefighters who saved his life.

Firefighters called to the Parkwild Apartments near 8th Street and Parkwild Drive arrived to find smoke everywhere and a resident trapped inside.

Twenty-three-year-old Zach Aughe tried to get to the door, tried to break out a window, but couldn’t do it and the thick, black smoke was taking its toll.

"Last thing I remember is looking back and just seeing the kitchen engulfed in flames and (I) collapsed to the floor next to the back door."

That’s where firefighters found Zach and quickly got him out in the fresh air. He doesn’t remember the ride to the hospital. "The next thing I know it’s two days later, I wake up in ICU with tubes down my throat. It was quite the experience."

Zach took in a lot of smoke and will have to use oxygen until his lungs clear. “At the hospital they said I had the equivalent of a pack-a-day for two years in about a half-hour period. That’s 15,000 cigarettes in about a half-hour. My lungs and throat are pretty beat up."

He was released from the hospital on Monday. One of his priorities is to meet the people who got him out of the apartment and to the hospital. "I want to get to know them and thank them individually for saving my life."

Zach lost everything he owned in the fire, including the cat he had for two years. He’s just thankful to be alive.

Investigators say a bad plug on a microwave in Aughe's apartment started the fire.

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