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Making heroism a habit
Lane, 44, a disabled chef who lives with his wife, Angela, in an apartment on Third Street, recently recalled the fire that almost took the life of his neighbor Randy Thompson the night of Sept. 28.
“I don't consider myself a hero; he was just a real good friend,” Lane said, adding he fondly remembers how he and Thompson would barbecue together or sit up and talk outside late into the night before the fire.
On that night last September, Lane said, he was cooking in his apartment — with no shirt or shoes on — when Angela thought she heard the smoke alarm in the hallway. He recalled how it kept ringing off and on until most of the tenants had evacuated the building.
Lane said he noticed Thompson's door was still closed, so he pounded on it but received no response. He then kicked the door open, grabbed a nearby handheld fire extinguisher and started spraying it into the dark apartment.
“I didn't remember I didn't have any shoes on,” Lane said, recalling how he tried, but couldn't reach Thompson, who was lying unconscious on the floor.
Upon leaving the building, Lane said, he managed to open the ground-floor kitchen window and get a boost to reach inside Thompson's apartment.
“I just grabbed him,” Lane said. “His skin just pulled off his arm.”
Lane refused to cease rescue efforts until firefighters arrived, went inside the building and rescued Thompson, who was 59 at the time.
“I wasn't going to leave him,” Lane said.
Fortunately, he said, firefighters, responded within minutes.
Firefighters later determined the fire began in the living room of Apartment 1, where Thompson lived alone. While the apartment sustained the most damage as a result of the fire, smoke caused issues throughout the two-story structure.
Lane said he didn't hear from Thompson, who was transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation and burns over half his body, for quite some time, until he moved to a rehabilitation clinic in Exeter. Regrettably, he said, he doesn't know how Thompson is doing now.
“It's just me; I like helping people,” Lane said of the motivation behind his efforts.
While he and his wife were living in Rochester, Lane said, he rescued a couple who refused to leave their kitchen during a 2004 fire on Chestnut Street. He recalled how he was sitting on his porch on a summer day when a neighbor told him a nearby home was on fire, which forced him into action.
Lane said he ran down the street and entered the home, where he learned people were trapped inside. He eventually found a woman and her husband, who required an oxygen tank and was reluctant to leave the home.
“I told him this was his lucky day,” Lane said, recounting how he hoisted the man onto his shoulder and led the couple out the back door with the wife carrying the oxygen tank.
“I don't think — I just do,” Lane said.
A few years later, Lane said, a fire destroyed the duplex where he and his wife were living on Harrison Avenue. This time, he added, his wife rescued him, waking him up as the fire was burning the building. Although they were able to escape unharmed, they lost everything inside the home.
“Me and fire just don't get along,” Lane said.
The Union Leader Hero Awards honors New Hampshire residents who risked their lives in the previous year to save or attempt to save the life of another person. The program is sponsored by Citizens Bank and presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Recipients of the 2012 Union Leader Hero Awards will be honored at a ceremony at the State House on Thursday, May 10, at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested. For more information on the program or ceremony, contact Community Relations Manager Teresa Robinson at 206-7833 or at email@example.com.
About the Hero Awards
The Union Leader Hero Awards honor New Hampshire residents who have risked their lives in the previous year to save or attempt to save the life of another person.
The program is sponsored by Citizens Bank and presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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