Rescuers go above and beyond

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  • Jun. 22, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Shawn Burnett and Bob McGhie pulled residents from a fire consuming North Bridge Suites June 13. The two said they just did what anyone else would have done.

CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News

Two ordinary Ponoka men were thrust into an extraordinary situation after a fire broke out last week at North Bridge Suites.

Bob McGhie, who works for the town, was first to the fire and called it in to the Ponoka Fire Department.

“There was a lot of black smoke,” said McGhie.

Shawn Burnett was next on the scene, and he and McGhie realized pretty quickly there might still be residents in the building.

“I was on my way to work and I saw the smoke from my house because I live up on the hill and when I got there, the fire, it was already going and it was pretty loud and you literally couldn’t see the street” said Burnett, who owns Reflections on 66.

“Me and Bob thought we better check to make sure everyone is out. So we came up through the courtyard and there was a fellow there in his wheelchair and we asked if anyone was in the building and he said, ‘Yeah’.”

From there Burnett and McGhie said adrenaline took over.

“We got everybody out except for the second door of the second floor because it was too hot and it was locked. So we told the fire guys when they pulled up,” said Burnett.

“It was breathtaking when you’re right up there and it’s burning with all of the smoke. You couldn’t be there very long, just hammering as loud as you can but it’s just something you do,” explained McGhie.

The fire left a wake of charred wreckage starting in the bottom northeast suite and climbing up the wall into the suite above it.

When fire crews arrived Burnett informed them of the suite he and McGhie couldn’t gain access to and crews checked it out. Firefighters removed one resident from the suite, effectively getting everyone out of the building. Firefighters then used a pumper truck to put the blaze out.

“You just want to make sure that everyone is OK and it’s good to know there were no injuries,” said McGhie.

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