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Fri., Oct. 9
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York

City plans to honor former firefighter


He may have retired from the fire department four years ago, but Jefferson E. Thornton isn’t done saving lives.

The city plans to honor Mr. Thornton for rescuing a mother and her two young children from a house fire early Monday.

The Ogdensburg resident, sick with a cold and unable to sleep, walked outside his Adams Street home just after 3 a.m., only to see his neighbor’s house going up in smoke.

“I walked out on my side porch to have a cigarette, and I looked across and the house was on fire,” he said.

Investigators from the Ogdensburg Fire Department said they believe electrical problems started the blaze at 312 Adams Ave. home of Brandy Middlemiss, her 3-year-old son, Patrick, and her 5-year old daughter, Lynzee.

The family was sleeping when Mr. Thornton arrived.

“I went across the street and started pounding on the door and I helped her get the kids out,” he said. “That was the first thing I thought, I gotta get them out of the house.”

All three escaped with no injuries. The Ogdensburg Fire Department responded quickly, but the kitchen and the back of the house were nearly destroyed.

Ms. Middlemiss, who is staying with her parents for the time being, was not available for comment.

The Ogdensburg Bowl will hold a benefit bowling tournament Nov. 25, with proceeds benefitting the Middlemiss family, who lost most of their belongings in the blaze. When Mayor William D. Nelson heard about Mr. Thornton’s actions, he decided he wanted to honor the former city firefighter, who retired from the fire department in 2008.

“I’d just like to give some kind of recognition to him,” Mr. Nelson said. “He came to the aid of a neighbor and saved the lives of the individuals who lived in that home.”

Nothing specific has been planned yet, but the mayor said Mr. Thornton will be recognized at an upcoming council meeting.

“He’s a hero in my eyes,” Mr. Nelson said.

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