Nev. Firefighter Recalls Fire Killing Three Kids, Adult


From his hospital bed inside University Medical Center's burn unit, firefighter Quentin Aukeman said he's had some time to reflect since the deadly fire in Pahrump on Wednesday morning.

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Aukeman, a firefighter with the Nevada National Security Site, said that when he pulled up to a burning house in the 3400 block of Prospector Lane, he knew the situation was critical.

In the front yard, he saw a woman screaming.

"I said (to the woman), 'Is everybody out?'" Aukeman said. "And she goes, 'No, my babies are in there.' You know, firefighters react to those terms."

Aukeman teamed up with his neighbors, breaking windows and fighting their way through the thick, black smoke. Aukeman said he headed straight for a crib.

"Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find that baby in the crib, which is my regret," he said. "Whether or not that baby would've survived, I don't know."

Overcome by the smoke, he said he was forced out of the house when he heard another child deep in the darkness.

"The other child crying back there was just the most haunting sound," he said.

In the end, the death toll included three children: Elliot Broadhead, 1, Zachary Broadhead, 4, and Branden Smith, 6, as identified by the Nye County Sheriff's Office. Also killed in the fire was Crystal Smiley, 24.

Aukeman was flown to UMC, where his wife, Teresa, joined him by his bedside.

She said she admires his heroic effort.

"It just comes natural," she said of her husband. "It's an honor to be married to him."

Doctors told Aukeman that he will probably remain in the hospital over the weekend, but he said he can't wait to return to work.

The Pahrump Valley fire chief told FOX5 that two Nye County sheriff deputies were treated for smoke inhalation while fighting the fire.

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