B. J. Walker, 38, police officer, rescued Joseph P. Maestri, 58, department store clerk from burning, Fort Smith, Arkansas, January 7, 1967. Maestri was asleep in a bedroom on the second floor of a three-story wooden dwelling when fire broke out on the ground floor and flames spread rapidly, filling the house with smoke. Walker, who was off duty, was driving by and noticed the flames. After calling the fire department, he ran to the dwelling. A man who had occupied a first-floor bedroom told Walker that other persons still were inside. Crawling into the living room beneath dense smoke, Walker reached an enclosed stairway, where flames burned on the walls and ceiling. Heat was intense. The smoke caused Walker to cough violently, and he returned to the front porch for air. Learning that another door at the side of the house led directly to the stairs, he ran to it and kicked it open. Walker drew his jacket over his head and made his way up the stairs amid flames and falling pieces of the burning ceiling. Near the top of the stairway he found Maestri, who pulled away when Walker attempted to take hold of him. Walker lifted Maestri onto his shoulder, descended the stairs, and emerged from the dwelling. After givinvg Maestri to neighbors who had gathered, Walker reentered the house to try to aid others, but by then the stairway was a mass of flames and heat was blistering. Walker ran out of the dwelling, affected by smoke and heat and nearly exhausted. Firemen arrived and removed occupants of the third floor by using ladders, but two persons on the second floor perished. Maestri sustained minor burns, and Walker’s face and arms were blistered. Both recovered.
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