Thomas J. Patterson helped to save Russell P. Stovall from burning, Jamestown, California, June 29, 1967. Stovall, 18, student, was fighting a brush fire on the side of a ravine when he was overcome by the heat and slid to the bottom. While he was being tended, firefighters reported that flames were moving rapidly toward them. All began to flee the area. A member of a work crew that was aiding the firefighters picked up Stovall, who still was unconscious, and began to climb the very steep bottom section of the slope. The flames already were within 50 feet of him, and heat was intense. Slowed by the brush and trees, the crewmember moved about 15 feet up the slope; tiring rapidly, he then called for assistance. Another member of the work crew, Patterson, 22, who was among those farther down the ravine, ran back and ascended the slope to a point behind the men. He aided the other crewmember by pushing upward on him as he continued up the steep slope with Stovall. The flames spread to within 10 feet of them at one point, and heat became very intense. Although nearing exhaustion, Patterson and the other crewmember could not rest due to the threat of the flames. They finally reached the top of the very steep slope 100 feet above the floor of the ravine, where the other crewmember placed Stovall on the ground. Breathing with difficulty, both rescuers rested very briefly as the spreading flames continued toward them. Together they then carried Stovall more rapidly up the less-steep upper section of the ravine. Both crewmembers were weakening, and, after carrying Stovall 125 feet, they called for assistance. Another man aided them in carrying Stovall the rest of the way to the top of the ravine. Stovall was revived, and he recovered fully.
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