CLINTON — For hours Sunday, the stream of red-eyed mourners seemed endless.
The flag flew at half staff outside the Clinton Fire Department’s central station as dozens from the city’s fire-service family closed ranks inside. Shock had graduated to grief over the death Saturday of Lt. Eric Hosette, killed while fighting a fire at an ADM grain facility. About three hours after firefighters arrived there, an explosion took Hosette’s life and seriously injured another. Firefighter Adam Cain, 23, was in critical condition at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Sunday.
Kim Asmussen was one of a half-dozen people to place flowers at the base of the flag at Central Station. She is close with Cain’s family, she said, and visited them Saturday in Iowa City.
“His mom let us know about 6:40 a.m. (Sunday) that Adam had a decent night,” she said. “He can’t speak, and he’s heavily sedated. At one point, he had tears rolling down his cheeks.”
A spokesperson for the hospital had no information to release about Cain on Monday. According to a news release Sunday from Clinton City Administrator Matt Brooke, Cain continues to improve: “He is now breathing on his own, awake and alert.”
Asked whether Cain is aware that Hosette died in the blast, Asmussen said she doesn’t think he knows.
As family, friends and fellow firefighters prayed for Cain, they remembered Hosette.
The 33-year-old’s commitment to the fire service went beyond Clinton. He was elected in December to serve as chief of the volunteer fire department at Charlotte, about 20 miles away.
The flag at the Charlotte station also flew at half staff, and a memorial to Hosette was on display outside the fire department, which also serves as city hall for the town of about 400.
In the driveway of the small station, Hosette’s fellow firefighters set up a memorial, displaying his turnout gear in front of a firetruck, which was draped in black.
A firefighter in Clinton for 12 years, Hosette leaves behind his wife, Kelly, and young daughter, Addy.
Public visitation for Hosette’s funeral is schedule from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton. A community memorial service will be held Saturday. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a memorial fund in the family’s name at Clinton National Bank.
The incident is under investigation by Clinton and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, spokesperson Ron Humphrey,said.
“We’re an assisting agency,” Humphrey said Monday. Clinton, he said, called in the fire marshal’s office to assist, and representatives were at the scene Monday, as they have been “on and off since Saturday.”
He said the fire marshal’s office tracks down witnesses — “anyone that happened to see anything” — that could range from other responders to the scene to plant workers. Investigators also will collect video from neighboring businesses, for example, or squad cars.
The scene examination, he said, can be intensive depending on the size of the scene. Because the state marshal’s office is a law-enforcement agency, it must treat all cases as potential crime scenes, he said.
In tribute, fire departments, residential homes and businesses have hung red lights — including porch lights and lights in windows — in memory of Hosette.
Photos of the light displays are being posted to social media with the hashtag #clintonheroes.
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“The staff at EIFG (Eastern Iowa Fireground Photos, which provides online updates of incident alerts and scene photos), along with our friends at Quad-City Fire Wire (a group that updates fire news within a 30-mile radius of the Quad-Cities) are sending out a challenge to all of our followers, and beyond to shine a red light in honor of Clinton Fire Department Lieutenant Eric Hosette, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and Firefighter Adam Cain …:” reads the Eastern Iowa Fireground Facebook site.
The groups encourage people to support the Clinton firefighters by turning on a red light.