ANKENY, Iowa - A peaceful Saturday turned into moments of terror as an Ankeny man saw black smoke from a neighbor's house a street over, and he and another jumped a fence and rushed in to save the people who live there.
They didn't know the family had left town that morning.
Chris Pardekooper tells WHO-TV 13 that he and Chip Peterson ran into the burning home, with Peterson picking up a towel he found by the back door, covering his face, and hurrying up the stairs. Pardekooper says he found another towel and went into a nearby room. He says there was so much smoke he couldn't tell if it was the dining room or maybe the kitchen.
The two men called to the family, but found no one. At one point, Pardekooper says, he wondered if he'd made a mistake going into the burning home.
“When I bumped into the chair and went to the left and bumped into something else and was trying to feel my way around, I was like 'I better not get too far away from the door because I may not get back out.' He says. "I remember always being told stay low to the ground. There was no staying low to the ground. The smoke was all the way to the floor and there was zero visibility everywhere in the house."
The two men got out safely.
The cause of the fire is being investigated, but firefighters say it appears to have started in the garage.
Photo by WHO-TV 13