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Worthington resident recognized for rescue

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington resident Richard Barr was honored during Monday's city council meeting for rescuing an Okabena Towers resident from an Aug. 31 fire.

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WORTHINGTON - Worthington resident Richard Barr was honored during Monday’s city council meeting for rescuing an Okabena Towers resident from an Aug. 31 fire.

  Members of the Worthington Fire Department, Worthington Police Department and Sanford Worthington EMS gave him a “life-saving award” plaque in recognition of his actions.

  A female tenant on the second floor had fallen asleep while smoking, igniting the fire. After nearly all of the tenants made it out of the building, she had awoken, but was trapped. She eventually made it out of her door, into the hallway and called for help. As she didn’t have her oxygen tank with her, the increasingly thick smoke meant she didn’t have long before she could no longer breathe.

  Barr ran up two flights of stairs, not able to see or breathe well without any kind of equipment. He quickly found the resident and carried her out of the building. She was taken to Sanford Worthington for initial treatment, then airlifted to Sioux Falls, S.D. with life-threatening injuries. She was later released and is currently doing fine, living with family.

  Barr said his heroics were simply about doing the right thing in that situation - helping someone in need.

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  “If I had to do it all over, I would,” Barr said. “I try to help anyone and everyone I can, all I can, no matter what. It’s just natural.”

  Fire Chief Rick von Holdt was impressed that Barr was able to save the tenant without any equipment in heavy smoke.

  “With how much smoke there was, it wouldn't take long for a person to get smoke inhalation,” von Holdt said. “Not only that, but I’m sure his eyes started burning quick.”

  Barr works with residents of Okabena Towers and knows his way around the building, which certainly helped him find her through the thick clouds.

  “It was hot in there and the smoke was thick, and he had to feel his way around because there’s no way he could see through that,” von Holdt said. “Knowing the layout of the building was key.”

  The fire department showed up soon after and used a ladder to get up to the second floor, quickly neutralizing the fire. Von Holdt said it was somewhat controlled to the original apartment and didn’t leave much damage to the hallway floors or ceilings.

  Von Holdt had a plaque engraved for Barr by Center Sports, but Barr didn’t feel like he required a reward for his efforts.

  “I don’t need anything,” Barr said. “Just knowing you can help someone is all the satisfaction you need.”

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Related Topics: FIRES
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