Richard L. Ashlaw rescued James H. Baker from burning, Massena, New York, March 16, 1998. Baker, 51, lay unconscious on the floor of his second-floor apartment after fire broke out in the apartment and filled it with dense smoke. Ashlaw, 46, border patrol agent, saw the fire from across the street and, after reporting it, responded to the scene. Learning that Baker was unaccounted for, he went to the second floor of the building and kicked in the door to Baker’s apartment. Dense smoke poured out of the unit. Using a fire extinguisher to put out some of the flames, near the door, Ashlaw gained entry to the apartment and began to crawl through it. After going about six feet, he was forced out, for air. Hearing Baker moan, Ashlaw re-entered the burning apartment, penetrated it farther, and found Baker, about 20 feet from the door. He grasped Baker’s wrists and dragged him from the apartment. An arriving firefighter assisted Ashlaw in taking Baker to the first floor and out of the building to safety. Baker was hospitalized for treatment of smoke inhalation and burns. Ashlaw sustained smoke inhalation and minor burns, and he recovered.
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