Ventura Urquidez, Jr., saved Lucy G. Villa and others from burning, Tucson, Arizona, March 29, 1963. When a gas explosion occurred in a one-story cement block building housing a laundry and dry cleaning plant, parts of the walls were knocked down, one section of the roof caved in while other areas sagged badly, and fire broke out. Seven persons were killed in the explosion. Mrs. Villa, 37, and Mrs. Rossie L. Chesser were thrown to the floor amid falling debris. Urquidez, 21, laundry hand, who had sustained a head injury, left the shelter of a clothes rack to pull the women to beneath a heavy wooden table as debris continued to fall. When the flames began to spread, he led the women 12 feet to a lounge and thence outside. Although thick dust obscured vision, Urquidez then entered the cleaning department and made his way 30 feet through the debris to two women. Carrying one and leading the other, Urquidez took them to the outside door. He then made his way 30 feet to Carmen A. Ramos and Olivia R. Aros. Both were inert and had sustained burns from flames spreading toward them. After moving aside debris, Urquidez carried Miss Ramos 20 feet toward the door. Two men then took her outside; and Urquidez returned to Miss Aros. Flames extending from floor to ceiling were within 20 feet of him, and the smoke caused him to choke. He carried Miss Aros to the door and emerged from the building as more of the roof collapsed. Urquidez then ran through the lounge to the door of the laundry. Heat was intense. Hearing a groan, he stepped into the laundry, felt his way 20 feet along the wall, and found another woman, who also was inert, he removed her by way of the lounge as the flames spread to near its door and part of the laundry roof collapsed. Other men took Urquidez outside and restrained him from re-entering the laundry. The flames destroyed nearly all of the building. Urquidez and those he had aided recovered.
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