The Keokuk Duplex Fire, Dec. 1999

In a duplex on Franklin Street, a four-year-old boy named Jacob turns on a kitchen stove while his mother is still asleep.

The burners start some plastic high-chair trays stored on top of the stove on fire. That fire soon spreads throughout the kitchen.

Jacob runs upstairs to wake his mother, Melissa. She finds the smoke and heat too intense to get past it to her other children’s bedroom.

Three more kids are in there.

Melissa grabs Jacob and puts him out a second-floor window onto the roof.

She again tries to get to the children but is again forced back.

She goes back to the window, climbs out on to the roof with Jacob, and begins screaming for help.

A boy going out to shovel snow sees her and runs home to tell his mother, who calls 9-1-1 and sprints over to help. Within seconds, other calls are coming in.

The fire in the old house would be like no other the Keokuk Fire Department had ever experienced.

On this episode of True Fire, we’ll look back at the Keokuk Apartment Fire tragedy and find out what lessons were learned.

The NFPA Report

The NIOSH Report

The NIST Report



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