Dawn Marie Williams attempted to save Christopher W. McPhatter from burning, Maplewood, New Jersey, December 16, 2003. Christopher, 7, was in the basement of his family’s house after fire broke out there at night. All other occupants of the house fled, then realized that Christopher was missing, and efforts to find him were thwarted by deteriorating fire conditions. On duty in the neighborhood, Williams, 32, police officer, responded to the scene and learned that Christopher was still inside. Although she had no protective equipment, Williams entered the house through the front door, despite intense heat and dense smoke that precluded visibility, and searched for Christopher. Forced back outside, Williams attempted to access the basement through a side door, but again she was unsuccessful. On a third attempt, Williams re-entered the house through the front door and searched further. Smoke conditions and rapidly spreading flames forced her outside, where she was overcome by effects of inhaling smoke. Firefighters then arriving recovered Christopher from the basement. He was taken to the hospital but succumbed to effects of the fire. Williams too was taken to the hospital, where she was admitted to the burn intensive care unit in serious condition for smoke inhalation and respiratory failure. She was detained five days and was unable to work for two months, but she recovered.
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