Retired Firefighter Makes 1 More Rescue: His Neighbor
Published: Apr 19, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - Richard Fleming's back was more sore than usual Monday.
The retired firefighter, who injured his back falling through a roof while fighting a blaze 16 years ago in Albany, N.Y., rescued a 79-year-old neighbor from her burning house early Monday.

After hearing the windows in Helen Stanton's house shatter shortly after 2 a.m., Fleming said, he rushed next door to 5164 101st St. He came upon Stanton's son, Gary, 54, in the doorway. He was on his hands and knees, on the verge of making it out of the house.

Fleming, 59, moved past him and into the living room, where he found Helen Stanton standing immobile in heavy smoke. One of her legs was in a brace, from a fall in a library. Fleming said he hoisted Stanton onto his shoulder and carried her out of the house.

The mother and son were flown by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital, where they were in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The house had more than $60,000 in damage, Pinellas County sheriff's Sgt. Jim Bordner said. The cause of the fire had not been determined, he said.

Fleming said he doesn't consider himself a hero: ``I did what most any neighbor would do.''

Still, the rescue caused his back some soreness, Fleming said, and he looked forward to a previously scheduled massage.

The rescue also brought back memories.

``I forgot how hot and smoky that stuff is,'' he said.

Reporter Stephen Thompson can be reached at (727) 823-3303.