Anthony D. Blaskoski rescued William B. Gunderson and attempted to rescue Emma Gunderson from burning, Elburn, Illinois, March 2, 2005. Gunderson, 49, and his daughter Emma, 5, were inside the family’s two-story house after fire broke out on the first floor and filled the house with dense smoke. Driving nearby, Blaskoski, 45, sales manager, saw smoke and flames issuing from the house. He stopped at the scene, where he learned that Gunderson and Emma were still inside. Despite rapidly growing and advancing flames, Blaskoski entered through the front door and started to crawl through a hall. He retreated for air, then re-entered, finding Gunderson on the floor near the foot of the stairs. He attempted to pull Gunderson from the house, but Gunderson appeared to Blaskoski to be caught. After retreating again for air, Blaskoski entered the house a third time, ran to Gunderson, and, pulling him free, dragged him to the front door and outside to safety. Blaskoski entered the house a fourth time, in search of Emma, but was unsuccessful in the attempt. Responding firefighters recovered her from a second-floor bedroom. She was hospitalized for treatment of burn injuries but died the next day. Gunderson also required hospital care, as did Blaskoski, who had inhaled smoke and injured a shoulder during the rescue.
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