Penticton and South Okanagan
Hero: 'All in the line of duty'
Aug 29, 2013 / 3:45 pm
Oliver Fire Chief Dan Skaros is used to battling blazes, but Wednesday was a particularly tough day.
He was on his way to a meeting with the new ambulance superintendent when he smelled smoke and saw fire coming from the Centennial RV Park.
Not long after, he was pulling the limp body of a boy through a back window of a burned motorhome at the location.
"I've never done anything to this extent before," he said. "I feel badly shaken up, and I didn't get much sleep worrying about the boy."
As for being called a hero for his efforts, Skaros said what he did was all in the line of duty.
"I am not a hero that is just what I do," he said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the boy identified as an 8-year-old named Cody, was in a burn unit at a hospital in Vancouver, according to Rob Graham, an Oliver firefighter and spokesman for the fire department.
The boy, with second degree burns on 40 percent of his upper body, was transported to the hospital by air ambulance Wednesday night, said Graham.
The incident started around 4:15 p.m., according to Skaros.
When he arrived on the scene, there were about five or six people already there, with a couple of guys fighting the fire with garden hoses.
Someone came running from the other end, saying there was a boy inside, then the boy's mother ran down, screaming, saying "my boy is inside."
The mother and the boy stay in the motorhome, and the mother works at the park, according to fire officials.
Once people knew there was a child inside, they stepped it up and went into rescue mode, said Skaros.
"I smashed out most of the windows, including the window in the rear, stood on a ladder and reached in and got him," he said.
The boy, who was limp and covered in black soot, was then rushed to an ambulance and taken from there to hospital.
Others involved in the rescue effort, were also shaken up.
"I don't feel very good, it was a very sad thing to see," said Don Rickman, a Kamloops resident, who assisted in the rescue.
"We know the little guy, because his mom works here in the park, and he just looked totally limp and dark when the chief brought him out."
RIckman had nothing but praise for the chief.
"We couldn't find the boy, and the chief did a wonderful job in getting him out," he said.
A woman, who gave her name as Heather, said she had just arrived at the RV park, when she heard someone yelling there is smoke coming from the trailer.
She walked over and started beating on the door to see if anyone was in there.
"I was in a panic with this trailer on fire," she said. "Then this lady came running down the road, saying my baby is in there. We started breaking windows and the fire chief pulled him out."
Later that night, she and her husband were asked to give a police statement, she said.
"It was very traumatic, a difficult start to our trip," she said.
The boy's father Ramsey DePrez, who was at the scene Thursday, with the boy's grandparents, said he was feeling devastated and still trying to figure out what was going on.
He said he hoped to get down to Vancouver sometime on Thursday to see his son.
The grandparents, who asked not to be identified, said they couldn't say enough about Skaros.
When Cody comes home, he will be his hero, they said.
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