Diane Linfield thanked Justin Varnum of Mexico, one of two men who rescued her and her mother, Blanche Sanders, from their burning home on Feb. 5. Varnum was presented with a Life Safety Award from the Fire Department last week. The other rescuer, Donald Hathaway, was out of town and will be presented with his award when he returns, Fire Chief Richard Jones said.

MEXICO — A Life Safety Award was presented to Justin Varnum, one of two men who rescued Diane Linfield and her mother, Blanche Sanders, from a burning home in Mexico on Feb. 5.

Firefighters and friends and relatives of Varnum gathered in the Mexico fire station as Fire Chief Richie Jones presented the plaque Thursday evening on behalf of the Fire Department. The second rescuer, Donald Hathaway, is a commercial fisherman and could not attend.

Varnum and Hathaway are from Mexico.

Jones said the men had just been to the fire station to get a burn permit on Feb. 5 and spotted the fire on their way home. They notified the Fire Department and helped the two residents out of their house “without taking any consideration to their safety, which is awesome,” the chief said.

“Justin Varnum, without hesitation and putting his own life at risk, helped Diane Linfield and her mother out of their burning home,” Jones read from Varnum’s plaque. “Your heroic actions will always be remembered.”  

“All I can say is that I was doing what I assume any other halfway decent person would have done,” Varnum said. “Coming back from in town and you see your neighbor’s house on fire — you don’t really think, you just act. That’s all me and Donny were doing. We didn’t take time to think about it. We took the best control of the situation in the end, I guess.”

Looking at Linfield, Varnum said, “I’m very ecstatic that I could be there to help you and your mother and I’m sure Donny would say the same thing.”

“Not only did he pull us out of the house,” Linfield said, “he went back in several times, in the flames, to get our animals and other important things out of the house. He never once hesitated or gave a thought to himself. And that day, I met a real hero.”

Her statement was followed by cheers and applause.

After Linfield gave Varnum a hug, she asked how she could thank him.

“Just thank me by a good cup of coffee sometime,” he said.

“OK, gladly,” Linfield said.

Linfield, who purchased the home at 223 Swift River Road when she came here from Massachusetts, said she is stronger from the experience. She noted the community has been very kind to them.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Linfield said. “It was a very humbling experience. We’re doing OK. We’re coming around. Eventually, we’re going to build on the same spot.”

Jones said he will present a Life Safety Award to Hathaway when the fisherman returns to Mexico.

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Mexico Fire Chief Richie Jones presented a Life Safety Award Thursday evening to Justin Varnum, left, one of two men who rescued Diane Linfield and her mother from a burning home in Mexico on Feb. 5. The second rescuer, Donald Hathaway, is a commercial fisherman and could not attend.

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