Omaha Sees Rise in Fire Deaths

Two men killed in an early-morning house fire on Wednesday were the 19th and 20 fire victims of the year in Omaha.

Shawn and Manasse Bohbot could not escape the fire in their home near 42nd and Hanover streets. Shawn's wife, Lisa, and their four children made it out alive.

Crews at Fire Station 21 were among the first at the scene of Wednesday's fire. Members of that station admitted on Thursday that they, too, feel the emotional toll.

"In the 15 years I've been on the department, this certainly seems to be one of the most deadly years in terms of civilian deaths in the city of Omaha," said Capt. Bernie Kanger.

Kanger said their job is not easy, and the responsibility they carry can be heavy.

"I would like to go to every single fire, and make sure that we can get every individual out of that home safety, and let these families go on about their lives following a tragic incident. That isn't going to happen in every case. It certainly didn't happen in this case," Kanger said.

The Omaha Fire Department has crisis teams to counsel firefighters who feel post-traumatic stress.

"They get together in serious incidents," said the department's Joe Fuxa. "They do a debriefing, and then do a follow-up after that."

For the firefighters of Station 21 who have responded to many of this year's fatal house fires, find more solace in each other.

"I fall back on the strength of the men and women of this engine house to get through times like that," Kanger said.

They said they have to decompress and talk about lighter things while they're inside the station, because at a moment's notice they'll have to find that strength all over again.

"We've got a very unbelievable sense of trust among the individuals here," Kanger said. "I feel very safe coming to work and working with the men and women assigned to this station."

Fire officials said the Bohbot family had a smoke detector, but had removed the batteries to use in something else. The Omaha Fire Department offers free detectors and safety checks by calling 402-444-3560.

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