Ralph Wm. La Combe, 17, schoolboy, attempted to save Donald A. Thorington and Mel R. Meldrum, both 4, from burning, Grand Marais, Michigan, October 14, 1958. While Donald and Mel were descending the basement stairs in a two-story frame dwelling, a propane gas stove in the kitchen exploded as Mel’s mother attempted to light it. Flames enveloped the wall behind the stove and spread into the stair well. The mother, who had sustained burns, ran from the dwelling. Her screams for help attracted three men and a number of youths, including La Combe. Learning that Donald and Mel were in the basement, La Combe ran to a ground-level window from which the mother had broken the glass. La Combe kicked out the wooden frame and lowered himself through the opening into the basement, which was filled with dense smoke. Covering his mouth and nose with a handkerchief, La Combe crawled as he groped his way nine feet from the window and found Donald. He carried Donald back to the window and handed him to another youth outside. As La Combe inbaled fresh air at the window, the mother told him that Mel might still he on the stairs. La Combe turned back into the basement and crawled eight feet to the open stairway door, through which he could see flames in the stair well. He got to his feet and stepped over some burning boards which had fallen to the bottom of the stairs. Flames burned on the walls and ceiling of the stair well, and heat was intense as La Combe moved up the stairway three feet and found Mel. He carried Mel back to the window and lifted him through the opening. La Combe then climbed out of the basement after having been inside nearly four minutes. Firemen extinguished the flames, which left the dwelling a total loss. Donald and Mel later succumbed to burns they had received.
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