A Clinton firefighter was killed and another firefighter was critically injured while battling a fire and explosion early Saturday morning at the ADM Grain facility in Clinton, city administrator Matt Brooke said Saturday night during a news conference at the city's police annex.
Killed was 33-year-old Lt. Eric Hosette, a 12-year veteran of the Clinton Fire Department who also served as the chief of the Charlotte Volunteer Fire Department.
Injured was 23-year-old firefighter Adam Cain, who has been with the department just shy of two years.
Clinton Fire Chief Mike Brown said that two shifts were involved in fighting the fire that was reported at 5:45 a.m.
"The first shift went in and stabilized the fire somewhat," Brown said. "We traded off shifts at 7 a.m. like we do every day and then about 8:45 a.m. what we thought was a stabilizing incident there was an explosion."
Hosette was taken to Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, where Brown said the medical staff "did everything possible to try and revive him."
"He was a fine man with a wife and young daughter," Brown added.
Adam Cain was missing when "heroically" he was found, Brown said.
Cain was taken by air ambulance to University Hospitals, Iowa City, where Brown described his condition as "very critical but stable."
Brown said he hoped to have good news about Cain's condition some time Sunday.
ADM spokesperson Jackie Anderson said in a statement to the Quad-City Times at around 5:45 a.m. Saturday, ADM employees discovered smoldering material in one of the loading facility's silo storage bins,
"We immediately contacted the local fire department for assistance," Anderson said. "A few hours later, for reasons unknown at this time, an explosion occurred in the silo. Sadly, two firefighters were injured during the incident and transported to a local hospital."
Anderson's statement continued:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these brave firefighters. They put their lives in danger every day, and it's hard to express how much we appreciate their selfless help in a time of need. We greatly appreciate the quick response, bravery and dedication of all of the emergency responders today. We are deeply saddened at the turn of events."
The incident is under investigation. Anderson said ADM is assessing the damage to its facility.
During the news briefing Saturday, Brooke pointed to a photo of the ADM plant and pointed to the silo where the fire and explosion occurred.
"They were heroically battling a fire 100 plus feet off the ground when these incidents occurred due to explosion," Brooke said.
No Clinton firefighters were on shift Saturday night. Firefighters from Camanche, Fulton and Davenport were covering the shifts.
The annex room where the news conference was held was filled with firefighters and Clinton city council members.
Outpourings of support came from all over.
Rock Island firefighters posted a message on the department's Facebook page: "Please pray for the members of the Clinton Fire Department and their families as they have lost one of the own while fighting a fire this morning."
The Davenport Fire Department posted: "To the members and families of the Clinton Fire Department we stand with you during this difficult time.
"Rest easy brother, we’ll take it from here."
Bettendorf firefighters posted: "We are at a loss for words of the news from Clinton today. Keeping the fallen firefighter, injured firefighter, their families and the Clinton Fire Department in our thoughts."
East Moline firefighters posted: "Please join us in prayer for this fallen brother, his family, and the rest of Clinton Fire Department as they mourn the loss of one of their own. We shall always be thankful for your service and duty to others. May you rest in peace."
There were many more postings of support for the Clinton firefighters.
Brown said that the support has come from throughout the region and that Iowa City has opened its stations to Clinton firefighters to sleep and eat as they visit Cain.
Brooke said that Hosette was taken to Ankeny for an autopsy and the support all the way there from other fire departments and law enforcement was amazing.
It was "more support than I've ever seen," from people across the region, he said.
The International Association of Fire Fighters will be helping to plan the memorial service.
Brown said that it will be tough to get through this time.
"We're going to pray a lot and ask for a lot of support," he said. "But we have resilient employees. Very few have gone home."
Brooke said the city will provide the department with counselors and ministers to help cope with the loss.
Brooke ended the news conference with a quote from Isaiah 6:8: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”