Steven J. Gies helped to rescue Cathy M. Rappa from burning, Petaluma, California, August 16, 2007. Rappa, 49, was unconscious in her apartment on the second floor of a two-story building after fire broke out in the unit’s bedroom and filled it with dense smoke. A neighbor, Gies, 43, electronics technician, was alerted to the fire and responded to the apartment, where at its outside door he learned from another neighbor that Rappa was inside. Having been told her location, Gies entered the apartment and crawled through dense smoke in the living room, which adjoined the bedroom, to where Rappa lay on the floor, in the bathroom doorway. He grasped her by the legs but found that she was stuck. Maneuvering her free, Gies dragged her toward the apartment entrance. With flames by then breaching windows near the door, the other neighbor entered the apartment and helped Gies drag her to the door, and arriving firefighters carried her down the stairs to safety. Rappa was hospitalized for treatment of severe smoke inhalation and burns and died two days later.
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