Cecil James Hehl rescued Cecilia B. Schindler from burning, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, May 27, 1999. Ms. Schindler, 94, who required the use of a wheelchair, was alone in her second-floor apartment after fire broke out in the unit’s kitchen. Hehl, 50, maintenance worker for the building, was alerted to the fire by the sound of smoke detectors and ran to the burning apartment. Finding its door locked, he left to obtain a key and to report the fire. Returning, Hehl got down on his hands and knees at the opened door and, beneath the dense, black smoke that extended to within a foot of the floor, saw Ms. Schindler lying on the apartment’s kitchen floor. Entering the apartment, Hehl crawled to the kitchen, where flames had engulfed one of the walls and spread to Ms. Schindler’s wheelchair. Hehl grasped Ms. Schindler by her ankles and dragged her out of the kitchen, then through the living room to the apartment’s door, near which others aided him. Hehl and others carried Ms. Schindler to safety. Ms. Schindler was hospitalized for treatment of burns, from which she died four days later. Hehl was given oxygen at the scene for having inhaled smoke. He recovered.
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