Exclusive Video: Fire victim Julius Helmle says he’s lucky to be alive. “I had to move myself away from the smoke.”

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Dec. 29, 2016 – Town of West Bend, WI – Julius Helmle, 83, said he is lucky to be alive. Resting in his hospital bed on the second floor of Froedtert St. Joes, Helmle has a white gauze bandage on his right arm. His blackened toes are covered with a bed sheet. “Second-degree burns,” he said with a thick German accent.

Helmle came to the U.S. in 1945. He made his way to Madison and then with the encouragement of his brother he came to West Bend. “More work here,” he said.

At home on Wednesday night with his son Mark, 52, Helmle said he was awakened from his sleep and told to get out of the house to save his life.

Helmle extended a strong “thank you” to all the firefighters and law enforcement for their help.

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