Firefighter called hero for saving captain in West Baltimore blaze Rescuer had collapsed inside burning rowhouse

October 12, 1998|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

Firefighter Charlie J. Campbell is being called a hero after he rescued his captain who became trapped on the second floor of a burning West Baltimore rowhouse while trying to save a 62-year-old woman.

Capt. Stephan G. Fugate was released yesterday from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center where he was treated for second-degree burns on his ears and minor burns to his wrists and hands.

Lilly Mae Brown died in the blaze, which broke out about 7: 40 p.m. Saturday in the 1000 block of N. Payson St., said Battalion Chief William Shives.

"It is no exaggeration that Campbell saved my life," Fugate said from home yesterday. "I honestly believed I was going to die last night. I'd either be dead or burned real bad if it weren't for [Campbell]."

Fugate said he ran into the house after a relative reported that Brown was inside the burning dwelling. But when an engine truck had mechanical problems that prevented it from getting water to the second floor, Fugate became trapped inside.

Campbell, who was on the ground, said he saw that Fugate could not knock out an air conditioning unit in the window to escape.

"I saw [Fugate] was up there and the fire just took off and he couldn't get out," Campbell said. "I saw his light in the window and I saw him struggling. When I got up the ladder to him, he was unconscious and lying [on the floor]."

Campbell pulled Fugate onto the ladder and held him until he lost his grip and Fugate fell about 6 feet, his fall broken by a first-floor awning.

"It was just a spur of the moment thing," said Campbell, who has been a firefighter since 1985. "It needed to be done and I just jumped in and did it."

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Pub Date: 10/12/98

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