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15-year-old recalls running into burning building

Ian Hardy holds up what was a white shirt until he ran into an apartment building to put out a fire last week. The shirt now hangs up in his apartment as a visible and scented reminder of his heroics. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal1 / 3
The fire damage spread to a dresser in the apartment. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal2 / 3
A mattress and box frame lay on the lawn with fire damage after a small fire broke out in an apartment on Sixth St SE in Wadena March 29. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal3 / 3

Ian Hardy wasn't thinking about what the flames would do to him as he ran into a neighbor's apartment last week in southeast Wadena. Saving other lives and the property was on his mind.

The 15-year-old heard a knock on the door around 9 p.m. and found the neighbor shouting at the residents to clear out because of a fire. While everyone else was running away from the fire, Ian ran for a fire extinguisher and ran straight into the neighbor's smoke-filled apartment.

He had trouble seeing through the smoke but managed to find some flames and began spraying the fire retardant in an effort to stop the fire.

"It was kind of out of control," Ian said. "I just wanted to make sure everyone got out and then I got control of the fire."

He ran out of the building once for a breath of fresh air before going in again with a second extinguisher. Remaining in the apartment meant breathing in smoke, which made him quite light headed after the ordeal.

Ian said he had the fire out before other first responders arrived. On scene were Wadena Fire Department, Wadena Police and Tri-County Ambulance. It's believed the fire was started by a child playing with a lighter, according to Ian and his dad Jesse Born.

Ian's dad and mom, Candy Matteson, are proud of their sons' work.

"He's only 15 and he put out the fire," Born said. "He just ran straight into it."

"If it wasn't for him, I don't think we'd have a place to live," Born said.

There are four apartments in the building just off Sixth Street SE in Wadena, where Ian lives with his family. The result of Ian's efforts are that only one apartment sustained damage and no one was injured. Ian did have to spend some time in an ambulance after inhaling a fair amount of smoke and some hair was singed by the fire, he said.

Ian said he was able to keep his cool during the fire because of training he received during an emergency preparation class in Verndale. He said in that class he learned basics of CPR, and how to put out a fire.

While Ian wasn't sure what he was running into, he reminds others that if they see a fire, they should clear out. Ian said he's always had an interest in emergency careers and this helped him see he'd like a future in fire fighting.

In the meantime, Ian hopes to talk to students at Wadena-Deer Creek School about fire prevention.

No further information about the fire was available from the Wadena Fire Department.