UNSUNG HERO: Mcleansboro Fire Department rescue - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

UNSUNG HERO: Mcleansboro Fire Department rescue

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MCLEANSBORO -- In this week's Unsung Hero, members of the McLeansboro Fire Department are being recognized for their heroic actions while battling a dangerous fire. That rescue was caught on a helmet camera worn by Assistant Fire Chief, Jim Morris.


In the early morning hours of August 26, Hamilton County Dispatch sends out an alert of a possible fire in McLeansboro on the corner of Cherry and Locust Streets.

"The three guys that responded first were myself, Firefighter {Lukas} Dale, and Firefighter {Nathan} Taylor," said Assistant Fire Chief Jim Morris. 

Initially, Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Kaitlin Wilson and McLeansboro Police Officers Mathew Bryson and Cory Skelton.

The six-unit complex was evacuated, but Morris said the crew believed someone was still inside. Morris said because of the condition the place was in finding anyone was a challenge.

"It's dark. It's very hot, a lot of smoke. You can't hear anybody and I know that the first place we had to go to was to that room right there," said Morris.   

Morris said the first crew ran out of oxygen after knocking the fire out. That's when he and Firefighter Walter Rexing went in.

"He confirmed that there was a victim down on the floor there." 

Morris said there was no time to think. The man was unconscious and their training automatically kicked in. The man was rushed out of the home and immediately flown to a St. Louis area hospital.

"It's about life, you know? If we have to give up our lives, so be it," added Morris. 

Morris said the man is alive today because of one simple rule.

"People out there need to know, keep your doors shut. The door saved this man's life. Having a door shut is a big thing," explained Morris. 

While the rule played its role, the city recognized all the emergency responders with merit awards for their life-saving acts.    

"It's about everybody that was there that night. From your deputies to your police officers to your paramedics," said Morris. 

Morris said if or when the times comes, they'll do it again without hesitation.

"We don't do it for pats on the back, We don't do it to be spotlighted. We do it because there's something down deep in every one of us," said Morris. 

Morris said the Fire Department is made up of 22 volunteer members and during that fire one of the police officers and a dispatcher put on their fire department uniforms to help fight the blaze. 

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