Man hailed as hero for rescuing 2-year-old

Published: December 11, 2006 | 5175th good news item since 2003

The Selah Fire Department wants to recognize a young man who ran past a raging garage fire and into a smoking house to save a 2-year-old boy Friday night.

About 7:30 p.m., 25-year-old Aaron Koler saw the flames in his neighbor’s garage at the end of the 600 block of North 12th Street and jumped over his fence to help. When he got there, Koler said, his neighbor was outside with two of his sons and was in shock.

“He kept on saying ‘Where’s my boys? Where’s my boys?'” Koler said. “I asked him how many boys do you have and he said three.”

Seeing only two boys outside, Aaron ran into the house saw a silhouette of the boy through the smoke. He grabbed the boy and turned around to head toward what he thought was the door, but instead he banged into a wall.

“I was almost into panic mode thinking about how we were going to get out,” he said.

Eventually Koler made it out with the boy then began pounding on neighbors’ doors to let them know about the fire. He was later taken to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for mild smoke inhalation.

Fire officials said the fire began in the garage of the home before spreading to a neighbor’s house, where it burned one wall and a roof of the garage. A videotape of the fire shot by Koler’s girlfriend shows flames shooting from the garage into the sky and an audible “pop,” which she said was the car parked in the home’s driveway exploding.

“I heard five pops at least,” said Joanna Muoth. “The flames were everywhere.”

Selah Fire Chief Jerry Davis said the cause of the fire was attributed to the rescued boy’s 4-year-old brother playing with a lighter. Davis also noted that Koler handled the situation well, though he was very hesitant to take any credit for what he did.

“He’s a modest young man and didn’t want me to give his name out to the media,” Davis said. “Sounds like it happened pretty fast but he really took charge, getting the boy out and warning neighbors. We’ll probably recognize him during the next council meeting.”

Koler said he would rather the publicity go to his neighbors, a family of five with three boys, ages 2, 4, and 8, who are now without a home during the holidays. The American Red Cross is assisting the family now while Koler and his girlfriend watch the family’s dog, Ben.

“I think if people can help they should,” Koler said. “I really want to focus on the family.”

However, Muoth added she hopes her boyfriend’s good deed will assist with his dreams of becoming a police officer, and that he just recently submitted an application to the Selah Police Department.

“Anybody who was there would have done what he did,” she said. “He just happened to be there first.”

Published in Heroes, Kids & Teens, Rescues
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