The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Dessa Rodeffer, The Quill Publisher/Owner
Meet our hero from right here in Henderson County, Danuel McKune of Oquawka. Dan, age 37, admits he often finds himself in unusual adventures. He just seems to be the one on the scene when a tragedy arrives.
Dan runs his own floor covering business which keeps him busy in a large radius.
"Monday (January 9th) was a particularly bad day," he said. "Bill, the guy who works with me, overslept and he was a half hour late."
The two were going to lay carpet in a duplex in Ft. Madison, Iowa but first had to stop by Lowe's and get the carpet.
"When we got there, no one was there. The incident put us another half hour late," Dan said.
"It had been 3 months since we had been to the house and the sheet we were given had no address. We called and were given 1229 R 31st Street.
"We looked for R street and found out there was none, so we went to 31st Street. Two blocks up the hill, me and Bill were looking for the duplex when I saw little yellow streaks half way up the window of a house. I stopped, and Bill asked me what I was going to do?
"I just said, "I think the house is on fire!' and I jumped out, ran to the door and started kicking it, thinking it was locked, yelling "Your house is on fire!'
"I opened the door and took 5 steps into the house and looked around and yelled, "House on Fire!' There was a stairway at the right and curtains at the left with fire coming up them and starting to hit the ceiling."
"I heard dogs barking and was hesitant. The fire started across the ceiling and Bill said the dogs weren't worth this and ran back to the van. I yelled again "House On Fire!" and whistled for the dogs. The fire was across the ceiling and the roof was starting to come down. I ducked down, and in a few seconds I was out, almost like in the movies, but it was real.
"I went to the neighbors and asked them to call the fire department.
"Then, I saw a man running out the door with his arms over his head obviously dazed. His hair was matted and singed. His two dogs, a boxer and terrier, were with him.
"In a short time (15-20 minutes max) the entire house burned to the ground, and only some walls remained."
Dan said that the man was an epileptic, and had been asleep in his bedroom where he had his dogs, and he thought his wife and daughter were somewhere in the house. But neighbors confirmed they had just left to get medication.
The Fire Marshal questioned Dan about what he had seen, and said that most people just phone the fire department. It's rare someone actually would go into a burning home and check it out and actually see what was happening inside.
"We would have been looking at a funeral here if you hadn't of come along," the Fire Marshal said.
Dan still says, it was a strange day. He wonders if it really was an accident they were an hour and a half late, driving by the fire.
Twenty minutes later, he said, "We drove right to the duplex we had been searching for. It was right down the street."
At home, Dan has talked to his wife Sherry, and their two children Shafer, 10 and Danyel, 5 about fire safety, and he has checked their smoke alarms in each room and they are working on their escape plan, in case of a fire.
Dan said, "I was burnt once in 7th grade and in the hospital, and no one should have to go through that."
Not only is Dan credited in saving the life of Valdine Vincent of Ft. Madison, Iowa, but earlier when he was laying carpet in a doctor's office in Oquawka, a mother brought her baby in who was chocking and turning blue. No doctors were there, Dan said. I just took the baby, everyone else was just looking, and I tilted her so she could get some air and she started breathing.
Another time, when the Monkeys were performing at Steamboat Days, Dan was on a boat with a river full of boaters. A high school classmate fell backwards into the Mississippi and without hesitation, Dan dived in while the others were panicking, and found her and pulled her back into the boat. He said he had rope burns from hitting all the guide lines, but she was treated and okay and now lives in California.
He was a victim of a car crash at age 18 and got out of the car just before the car blew up.
It seems that when something bad happens, Dan senses what it is like to be in those terrible situations and he just reacts, without hesitation. It is those few minutes that saves lives.
That makes him a hero.