Father of Waterloo fire victims speaks out - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Father of Waterloo fire victims speaks out

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- A Waterloo family is still reeling after an early morning house fire six days ago.  That fire, in the 500 block of Courtland Street, left the Engle family home in ruins.  And two of the young girls sleeping inside were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.  Now, their father is speaking out for the first time since the blaze.

James Engle says that six-year-old Tellshyah remains hospitalized, but she is now off a ventilator.  Her sister, five-year-old Trinity was released and came home this week.  Now, the Engle family is trying to put their lives back together.

"I was starting to lay down next to my wife, and I hear glass breaking," Engle said.

Last Wednesday, James Engle thought his home was being broken into.

"I come downstairs, I look... And there's flames pouring through my big picture window behind that far board there.  And the whole front of my house is on fire," said Engle.

Engle and his wife were able to quickly get their 10-year-old son and baby daughter out. But when Engle got to the room where his five and six year old daughters were sleeping, the smoke was so thick, he wasn't able to rescue them.

"May no parent, no matter who you are, have to go through something like that," Engle said.

But luckily, everyone survived.  And the whole family is getting stronger.  The same cannot be said, however, for the Engle family home.  Everything is stained gray and black from the smoke and ashes.  It's a place they called home for 10 years.

"All four of the children, this is the only home they've ever known," said Engle.

But the emotional scars of the fire, mean they won't be coming back.  The sobering experience has left the Engles with strong advice for other families.

"The smoke alarms didn't go off until we were already starting to evacuate people.  So get those checked.  And if you're in a two story house like this one, they have these roll-away escape ladders that hook onto your window sill.  Get them in every room upstairs," said Engle.

The Engles also plan to undergo family counseling to help them heal emotionally after this fire.  Meanwhile, investigators are still trying to determine exactly how the blaze happened.

The family has received an outpouring of support from all over northeast Iowa.  When we visited with them Tuesday, they'd just received a carload of diapers, clothing and food from a family in Marion.  But more help will be needed as they continue to recover.  You can help by making a donation to a benefit bank account at Veridian Credit Union.  Donations can be accepted at any Veridian location.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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