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2 police officers receive Union Leader Hero Award

MANCHESTER - City police Officer Ben Foster is unsure why he is being showered with praise for his actions to help save 30 people who were sleeping in a three-story apartment building on Barr Street when it caught fire last November.

Foster and Officer Dan Wood will receive the New Hampshire Union Leader Hero Award for going into the burning building Nov. 25, 2012, and banging on doors to get the 20 adults and 10 children out safely.

"It's very overwhelming getting this kind of publicity over one act," Foster said. "This act was so small compared to other things I've seen other officers of the Manchester Police Department do. It's kind of uncomfortable receiving the award and the attention from it."

The designation is the latest for the officers. They also received the Police Department's Life Saving Medal.

"I am extremely proud of them," Police Chief David Mara said. "They put themselves at risk and didn't even think twice about it. This is something the police officers of the Manchester Police Department do day in and day out."

Bishnu Gurung, 24, said at the time that she was sleeping when police officers started banging on her door and yelling for her to get out of the building.

"He was calling to 'Wake up,'" she said of the officer.

Gurung and her husband, Karna, 28, grabbed their 2-year-old daughter, Katrina, and headed out into the cold as the three-alarm fire burned through the roof.

Foster also tried to put out the fire, which firefighters believed started on a porch and worked its way into the building. Foster said he was shocked by electric current running through metal around a window during his efforts, but he said he and Wood never gave their own well-being much thought, even though he was "thinking rationally" and not operating on pure adrenaline.

"We knew we needed to start getting people out of the building," he said.

Firefighters at the time credited the officers with ensuring that nobody was injured or killed in the fire.

"I guess my biggest relief came when I knew that everyone was out safely, and I knew that Officer Wood got out," he said. "I'm just thankful to have been at the right place at the right time."

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