Steve G. Montelongo rescued Kathirne Mattox and saved Wayne S. Maxwell from burning, Modesto, California, February 10, 2002. Ms. Mattox, 80, and Maxwell, 79, were at home when a major explosion of leaking natural gas occurred in the one-story house’s utility room, causing extensive damage to the structure and setting it aflame. Burned, Ms. Mattox attempted without success to open the front door. A neighbor, Montelongo, 62, retired construction worker, was nearby and heard the explosion. He responded to the burning house, where he saw Ms. Mattox through the living room window. Montelongo kicked open the front door and entered the house. He grasped Ms. Mattox and handed her outside to others, then turned and crossed the burning living room in search of Maxwell. Passing through the badly damaged and burning utility room, Montelongo found Maxwell in the kitchen. Advancing flames blocked a course to the front door, and structural damage precluded escape through the back door. Seeing another door to the outside, in a wall of the adjoining family room, Montelongo led Maxwell there, after first giving up his own shoes for Maxwell to wear. Montelongo kicked open that door and exited the house with Maxwell. Maxwell was hospitalized overnight for treatment of smoke inhalation, and Ms. Mattox required two days’ hospitalization for treatment of burns. Montelongo suffered chest pains and was taken to the hospital for observation; he recovered. The house was destroyed in the explosion and fire.
75935 – 867075935-8670
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