MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — Timm Wilson-Krueger made a visit to the Clackamas Fire Station in Milwaukie on Tuesday. It was really meaningful for him, his family and for the firefighters who saved his life nearly 6 months ago.
An accidental kitchen fire set the house that Timm lived in with his mom and dad, Tammi and Kevin, ablaze on June 13. That night neighbors heard Tammi screaming her son was trapped inside.
When firefighters arrived they found Timm, who has autism and Down syndrome, locked in a hallway bathroom. They then lifted him out of a window where firefighters and emergency responders began treatment on him even before he was rushed to a hospital.
Tammi said Timm spent about 2.5 months in the hospital. “Doctors said it was the 2nd-worst smoke inhalation that they had seen.”
Her 19-year-old son was inside when the fire started, she said. “I stayed there and tried to get him to open the door for me and I kept running to his bedroom window to get fresh air and take a breath and run back.”
Finally, though, she had to leave.
Lt. Justin McWilliams with Clackamas County Fire District #1 was among the firefighters that went in to search for Timm.
“I was the lucky one that got to find Timmie behind a door,” McWilliams said. “That’s how we met.”
By that time the bathroom door was burning through, he said. “I just kind of bear-hugged him and started dragging him out,” he said.
The intense fire made McWilliams take Timm to a front side window. “We got him up on the bed. My crew met us out on the front side and we took him out the front window.”
Tammi ran to the front yard, not knowing if her son was alive. She told him to stay calm and let the emergency crews help him.
“At the scene he had particles, black stuff, in his mouth,” she said. “It was horrible.”
Tammi said if she had been able to get the bathroom door open, it’s probable both she and her son would have died.
“I said it was the hand of God, I said, that door kept me from going in there.”
The firefighters wanted to keep the door for training, and McWilliams said it’s at their fire station now.
“There’s a huge story behind it,” Lt. McWilliams said. “Those doors save about 5 minutes before burn-through. It definitely was a huge factor in saving his life.”
Lunch at the fire house
Since the blaze, the firefighters and Timm’s family have bonded.
“Those guys, when they saved Timm, they didn’t just save Timm. They saved our whole family,” Tammi said. “There are now words for what they’ve given us. Thank you does not even come close. They’re part of our family now.”
Fighting tears, Lt. McWilliams said getting to know Timm and his family “really brought back a lot of emotion in my life. This job really makes it so you try to distance yourself from that kind of stuff. But I tell you, with us getting close to Tammi and Kevin and Timmie and stuff is, I think, good for our emotional lives, reconnecting to our purpose.”
Over the months they visited Timm in the hospital, but Tuesday was the first time Timm got to visit the firefighters at their station.
Timm is a big fan of T-Rex. They gave him a t-shirt that reads, “Ask me about my T-Rex”, which has a picture of a T-Rex on the inside that can be pulled up over your face.
The firefighters all wore a T-Rex shirt, too, and gave him a giant Jurassic World poster.
“It’s just a really amazing relationship that we’ve built,” McWilliams said. Turning to Timm, he said, “We love you.”