Neighbors, Police Rescue Single Mother, 5 Children from Waterloo Fire

By Chris Earl, Reporter

WATERLOO, Iowa -- Neighbors and Waterloo police helped save a mother and her five young children from a burning home in Waterloo Friday morning.

Neighbors saw smoke coming from the upstairs of a home at 914 Wellington Street around 10 a.m. One neighbor, Demetrius Holder, knocked on the door to warn the people inside. That knock on the door woke Carolyn Crowley, the woman living there with her five boys.

"I started smelling smoke and started seeing smoke, and I came out and I looked," Holder, a father of four young children himself, said. "My neighbor's house was on fire and I went over there. The kids were running around and screaming."

The woman told her neighbors that her five children were upstairs, some of them sleeping.

"All I can see was my boys," Crowley said. "All I could think about was my five boys."

"It was bad," Janet Luck, Crowley's neighbor, said. "The whole top (of the house) looked like it was getting fried."

By that time, Waterloo police officers Shawn Bram and Dustin Lindaman arrived. Neighbors and the officers went back inside the burning home to get all five children out safely. Waterloo police say the officers had to crawl, at times, to reach the children.

Neighbors said firefighters told them it was an electrical fire that started somewhere upstairs. The home had extensive damage inside.

The children, who range in age from four to 11 years old, were home because Waterloo Schools were closed for the holiday weekend. Luck helped Crowley in the hours after the fire by helping take care of the five boys.

Waterloo police said Officer Bram and Lindaman have been nominated for the department's Medal of Valor.

As for Holder, the man whose own children play with the five boys, he said his actions were just natural.

"I care about human life," he said. "You've got to take care of business as it is happening."
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