Kamis, 08 Januari 2009

Two men who braved flames to find friends will be honored

One died, other burned after they re-entered house

By Julie Poppen, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)
Published January 8, 2009 at 12:05 a.m.

One of the first rules of fire safety: Get out and stay out.

But when someone breaks the rule and enters a burning building anyway, that person is seen as a hero.

That is exactly how Devin Barnhart and Jeremy McCarroll will be treated by the West Metro Fire Protection District.

"We never want people to re-

enter a home on fire for anything - a loved one, a toy, an animal," West Metro spokeswoman Cindy Matthews said Wednesday. "Having said that, nobody can judge the split-second decision they made to make the personal sacrifice to go in and look for their friends."

The two will be honored for their heroism at an upcoming citizen recognition event, she said.

"Whether or not they followed the advice we recommend, they still risked their lives - and one person lost his life - trying to help their fellow human being."

McCarroll died in the flames along with his friends, Joey Shedron and Amber Jeffers. Barnhart suffered burns over 70 percent of his body when he re-entered the home in an effort to find people in the basement. He then went through a wall of flames to get out the front door.

"I don't think enough can be said for two friends who all of a sudden say, 'Our friends are in there and we want to get them out of the house,' " West Metro Deputy Chief David Abbink said.

Still, Abbink would never recommend that anyone go into a burning building - other than a firefighter. He likened the scene inside a burning home to sitting around a campfire when the wind shifts and you have to move out of the way of the smoke. The difference is, inside a burning structure, you can't get away from the toxic fumes.

Children as young as preschoolers are taught that any fire bigger than a small trash can is too big to deal with alone and that they should get out and call 911. The lack of oxygen in a smoky building impairs judgment. A building fire can generate heat upward of 1,500 degrees.

Matthews reminded people to regularly check smoke alarms and set up a family meeting place outside.

On Nov. 15 in Boulder, a 21-year-old woman was critically injured when she attempted to re-enter her burning third floor apartment.

Susan Moi had left food on a stove while she made a quick run to a nearby convenience store. Smoke was coming from her building, but she went in anyway.

The Sudanese refugee suffered burns on up to 30 percent of her body, including her face, chest and arms. She has since been released from the hospital.

Her neighbor, Kaianna Kadiv nik, 26, was in the shower when the fire started. Kadivnik suffered third-degree burns on over 70 percent of her body before being rescued by a maintenance worker after collapsing in a hallway.

Kadivnik remains hospitalized in fair condition in the burn unit at the University of Colorado Hospital's Anschutz Medical Campus.

Dion Gonzales, a maintenance worker who lived in the building and rescued her, was hailed by residents as an "angel." He was not injured.

poppenj@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5176 Staff writer Judi Villa contributed to this report.