James M. Lee saved Topaz L. Wolfanger from burning, Bath, New York, November 12, 2001. Topaz, 5, was in a bedroom of her family’s apartment, on the first floor of a two-story building, after fire broke out in the basement at night and filled the apartment with thick smoke. Driving in the vicinity, Lee, 30, police officer, saw smoke at the scene and responded. Learning that Topaz was still inside the apartment, Lee entered the building through a front door, then entered the apartment. He got down on his hands and knees but was unable to see because of the smoke, which was issuing through the floor. Lee stood and, following Topaz’s voice, made his way across the living room and kitchen. He found Topaz’s bedroom, which was above the vicinity of the fire’s origin, then located Topaz on a bed in that room. He picked her up, put a blanket over her, and left the bedroom. He became disoriented while in the kitchen, but made his way to the living room, where he feared not finding the apartment door. Following cooler air and the voices of others, Lee went to the door, then outside the building to safety, where he collapsed. Topaz was not injured. Lee was given oxygen at the scene, then was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. He recovered.
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