John Kostelnik, 37, aircraft mechanic, rescued Donald M. Campbell, 19, student, and three other men from burning, Seattle, Washington, January 2, 1949. At night in freezing foggy weather, an airplane in which Campbell and 26 other men were seated in a cabin 30 feet long, crashed in an upright position near a hangar at Boeing Field. A door near the rear of the cabin was flung open at the impact. Flames rose 50 feet from the fuselage forward of the cabin; and gasoline, seeping along the aisle in the cabin, ignited. Eight of the men escaped through the door, one broke a window and got out, and another followed him out. From another hangar, Kostelnik, taking a fire-extinguisher, ran to the burning airplane, noted the extent of the fire, and then ran to the door and climbed in. The front of the cabin was obscured by flames, fabric on the walls and ceiling was afire, and the smoke was dense. Kostelnik tried to aid a man whose feet were pinned but was unable to pull him free. He saw others crawling about in a dazed manner. Shielding his eyes with one hand and bending low to obtain better visibility, he walked 10 feet forward in the aisle and put his arm around a man, walked backward to the doorway, and thrust him outside into the arms of a mechanic. In like manner Kostelnik took another man from the airplane. Returning to the aisle and walking a step or two forward, he grasped Campbell, backed to the doorway, and pushed him out to the mechanic. Heat became intense. Kostelnik again attempted to free the man who was pinned but could not. He then got hold of another man, whose hair was burning and whose clothing was afire at his neck and wrists. Kostelnik put out the fire on him, dragged him to the doorway, and jumped backwards, pulling the man out. He and the mechanic carried him to the other hangar, and Kostelnik returned to the doorway which was afire at its edges. In the meantime John R. Kolthoff had entered the cabin and saved two of the other men. Campbell sustained serious injuries but no burns. Only one of the other three was burned seriously. He recovered. Kostelnik suffered minor burns. One of the tanks of the airplane which was filled to capacity with gasoline remained intact. The fire burned for more than an hour, with 14 men perishing in the flames.
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