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280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Grit: May 13, 1962 – Two Policemen Show Heroism in Rescue at Apartment Blaze

The full story of the heroism of two off-duty policemen came to light yesterday when they reported for duty at 4 p.m. Patrolmen Richard Berry and Charles Hakes served beyond the call of duty early Saturday morning when 13 persons, including a year-old infant youth were rescued from a burning two-story house. The two policemen

The full story of the heroism of two off-duty policemen came to light yesterday when they reported for duty at 4 p.m.

Patrolmen Richard Berry and Charles Hakes served beyond the call of duty early Saturday morning when 13 persons, including a year-old infant youth were rescued from a burning two-story house.

The two policemen had their hair singed as they crawled on their hand and knees through thick smoke and intense heat in the two-family dwelling at 605 Fifth Avenue.

Berry’s hair was so badly singed that he had to get a military-style haircut, and the back of his hand is singed.

Hakes, who lives at 865 Memorial Avenue, was driving Berry, who lives at 617 Sixth Avenue, a block from the scene of the fire, home, when Berry saw flames leaping from the house on the northwest corner of Fifth and Memorial Avenues.

They stopped and Hakes went into an automatic laundry at the northeast corner to use the telephone and sound the alarm. Meanwhile, Berry entered the front door of the house to alert the residents.

After entering the house, Berry opened the door of the downstairs hallway, seeing a man inside and a child on the bed. He told the man to get the child out of the house fast. Then he went upstairs.

The heat made it impossible to get near the door, he said, and it was there that the flames singed his hair. When Hakes joined him, the two dropped to their hands and knees and crawled straight ahead into what was the kitchen of the second-floor apartment. Hakes and Berry followed but they were unable to find anyone and were driven back by the heat and smoke — still crawling.

Suddenly, a small girl appeared at the head of the stairs, coming from the direction from which the two had just crawled. A man who came upstairs took the child outside.

The heat became more intense and the two went outside to assist firemen who arrived to get them out by ladder.

Mr. and Mrs. William Hartman live on the second floor with six children. Mrs. Frances Craven lives on the first floor with four children.