Grandfather Hailed as Hero for Saving 6 Year Old

Grandfather Hailed as Hero for Saving 6 Year Old

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) -- Gordon Curl is being hailed as a hero for crawling through his burning home to save his 6-year-old granddaughter.

Curl was lying in bed Saturday night when his 13-year-old grandson came in and said the house was on fire.

Curl and his wife jumped out of bed and called to the rest of the family to get out. When they reached the driveway they found the girl, Marissa Gonzales, was missing.

Thick smoke was billowing out of the house. Curl ran back into the house and crawled on his hands and knees down the narrow stairway into the basement calling for his granddaughter. Near the bottom of the stairs he could hear her coughing and yelling his name.

Curl told her to follow his voice. The girl managed to find Curl and, as soon as he felt her hand, he grabbed her and carried her out of the house. Except for minor smoke inhalation, the girl was unharmed.

Fire Capt. Bob Fitzgerald said Monday that if not for Curl's actions, the girl would have died in the fire.

"We're still in a state of shock," said Irene Curl, Gordon's wife.

The fire was started by Curl's 4-year-old grandson playing with a lighter in the 13-year-old grandson's basement room about 11 p.m.

The 13-year-old awoke after feeling heat on his face, Gordon Curl said. He opened his eyes to find his bed on fire. He yelled to everyone in the basement and then ran upstairs to alert his grandparents. The girl, however, remained asleep in the next room.

"I just think it's damn lucky we all got out," Curl said. "A minute more, we'd all be gone."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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