Elwood R. Mellinger rescued Harry L. Zippe from burning, Mediapolis, Iowa, April 8, 1961. When his truck overturned on its side after veering off the road, Zippe, 43, truckdriver, was trapped inside the cab due to the door being jammed. Mellinger, 40, electrician, who had witnessed the accident, ran to the overturned truck and climbed onto it, noting a strong smell of gasoline. Just as he succeeded in opening the door slightly, one of two fuel tanks exploded inside the cab. Mellinger was blown to five feet beyond the truck as flames rose briefly to a height of 25 feet, and burning gasoline set Zippe’s clothing afire. Returning to the truck, on which flames a foot high then burned over most of the cab and engine, Mellinger climbed onto the truck and opened the door. Zippe, who while standing in flames was pushing on the door from inside, fell part way through the opening. Grasping his burning clothing, Mellinger pulled Zippe out of the cab and then aided him to a safe distance from the truck. By rolling on top of Zippe and covering his burning clothing with lime spilled from the truck, Mellinger extinguished the flames. Zippe suffered severe burns on his head and lower body. Mellinger sustained burns on his hands and arms. Both were hospitalized and recovered.
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