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NY Man Saves Family, Dies in Fire While Retrieving Cell Phone

A sad story out of New York City, where a 75-year-old Korean War veteran heroically helped his family escape a house fire, only to die when he went back in to get his cell phone.

The New York Daily News reports Nathaniel Legree forced open the front door of their burning house in Queens early Monday morning to get his wife and daughter out of the flaming house. Witnesses say he was carrying a cordless phone. But when the phone did not work, they say Legree ran back in to get his cell phone.

When he didn't emerge from the house, Legree's daughter ran to a neighbor's home for help. Neighbor Bryant Lattimer rushed out and said he did all he could.

"I went back and saw black smoke," said Lattimer. "It was coming from all the windows. I tried to go back and save him (and) I heard a tapping at the home's back windows."

"But it wasn't him," he said. "It was just the heat."

By the time firefighters arrived and brought Legree out, it was too late.

"He saved them," Lattimer said. "I don't know why he went back - but when he did, he didn't come out."

Legree's wife and daughter were treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns.

An electrical short in the ceiling of the basement apparently sparked the fire.


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