Fred Gonder, 40, electric company sub-foreman, rescued Virginia M. Dougherty, 7, from burning, Brooklyn, New York, December 30, 1928. Virginia was alone in the cellar of her home when fire was discovered there. Her mother attempted to enter the cellar but could not. Gonder opened an outside door to the cellar, entered through dense smoke, and descended the stairway backward to the floor. He saw Virginia at a distant corner, but because of the heat he returned to the door. Almost immediately Gonder again descended. Virginia was then closer, and Gonder tried to pull her toward him, but his hand slipped from her arm. Swirling flames and heat caused Gonder again to leave. Placing a heavy coat over his head and holding his breath, Gonder descended the stairway the third time, although his wife and son called to him not to go. He crawled four feet because the flames overhead were low, and picked Virginia up. A gush of smoke and fire came down upon them as Gonder ascended the steps. Virginia died as the result of burns. Gonder’s hair and eyebrows were singed.
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