Two Parkersburg firefighters continue recoup from injuries - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Two Parkersburg firefighters continue recoup from Allison fire injuries

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PARKERSBURG (KWWL) -

The community of Allison in Butler County remains without a grocery store after it was gutted by fire last month.  Insurance investigators collected evidence from the scene this week, hoping to find out what started the blaze. 

So far, the cause of the fire remains undetermined.  The state fire marshal's office does not believe it to be suspicious in nature.

Multiple fire departments were called in to help knock down the fire at J & C Grocery back on September 11.  Two Parkersburg firefighters were hurt when part of the building fell on top of them, and they're still recovering from those injuries.  For the first time, they're speaking out about what happened that day.

Once most of the Allison grocery store fire was extinguished September 11, Parkersburg firefighters Brian Graham and Dave Dickes decided to make their way in to knock out some hot spots.

"The next thing I know, something hit me on the head and buried me on the ground," Graham said.

Bricks and part of the store's awning had collapsed onto Graham and Dickes.

"I couldn't see anything.  Everything was just black.  And I really didn't know what happened, didn't know where I was at," said Graham.

"It was just a white hot pain.  And that's when I started screaming and started yelling, letting them know where I was at," Dickes said.

Other firefighters came to the rescue, pulling Graham and Dickes from the rubble.

"My foot was actually dislocated.  And there was no way they could cut anymore (from my boot)," Graham said.

Graham has since undergone surgery and is just starting to put more weight on his foot.  Dickes dislocated his hip, broke bones in his foot, and his back had to be fused back together. 

After 28 years as a volunteer firefighter, it's been tough for Dickes to sit on the sidelines.

"Every time that pager goes off, yeah, you just try to set it aside.  And my lovely wife of 42 years looks at me and says, ‘No you're not!'" Dickes said.

And that willingness and love for serving is exactly why Dickes and Graham both plan to return to volunteer firefighting as soon as they're able.

"It's not going to beat me.  It's going to be on my own terms when I retire," Dickes said.

"My new gear's here.  I'm waiting on my boots and helmet yet.  And we're ready to go again.  So I'll live to fight another day," said Graham.

Both firefighters are thankful for overwhelming support from the community:  from a benefit fund to "get well" cards sent by Aplington-Parkersburg students. 

Meanwhile, J & C Grocery Store in Allison is set to begin demolishing its burned building next week, so that rebuilding can begin.

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