UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. - More than a month after a fire tore through Heather Glen Senior Living in Upper Macungie Township, the first responders who rescued 87 elderly residents are receiving a special honor.
An award ceremony held at the Fogelsville Fire Company Saturday morning, recognized all of those who responded with proclamations--a select few received valor awards.
One of the valor award recipients, Sergeant Dathan Schlegel, remembers the call as if it were yesterday.
Schlegel was the first responder to pull up on scene at Heather Glen Senior Living on September 22 when he found the Upper Macungie facility engulfed in flames.
"You saw the flames, the smoke," Schlegel said.
He recalled breaking down the doors and running inside, helping to evacuate the elderly residents.
"At that point the ceiling tiles were coming down on us the water was coming through the floor," Schlegel said.
Another valor award recipient, Trexlertown Fire Lieutenant Frank Kimble, carried countless people down the ladders that night.
"This was the biggest rescue operation [because] everybody was immobile, wheelchairs, walkers, some had dementia," Kimble said. "I feel this is well deserved for everyone, cause we came together and we got the task done."
One of the senior residents who inside the facility at the time of the fire, Kathryn Haberbern, turned up to watch her heroes receive their special awards.
"It was [a] real pleasure to see them," Haberbern said.
She recalls waking up that night when an officer began pounding at her door, alerting her to the fire.
"He said this is a real fire, so I was out in my nighty and no shoes," Haberbern said. "it was quite an experience," she added, as tears began to fill her eyes.
Kimble and Shclegel both agree, when they were in the fire, they didn't worry about their own safety or even think about the possibility of winning an award--their concern was, and always will be the safety of others.
"It was a great team effort, could have been a lot worse," Schlegel said.
"Just being able to get them out and have no fatalities, few injuries, was a blessing," Kimble said.