- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - A District of Columbia firefighter is being praised as a hero after he climbed a ladder to a burning third-floor apartment and shared his breathing mask with a trapped 65-year-old woman until she could be rescued.

Phyllis Terrell told authorities she was preparing to jump from her southeast Washington apartment Wednesday afternoon when firefighter Danny Lovato, an 11-year veteran, grabbed a ladder and threw it against the wall to reach her. Lovato removed his mask and shared air from his tank with Terrell until other firefighters could reach her from the inside.

Both are being treated for smoke inhalation. Terrell was listed in serious condition Thursday, while Lovato, 39, was listed in fair condition. The two are in hospital rooms across the hall from each other, although officials said they had not yet been able to formally meet.

Lovato was engulfed in a cloud of toxic smoke while helping Terrell, firefighters union president Ed Smith told The Washington Post (https://wapo.st/1RCzLat).

“He took a beating to protect that woman,” Smith said.

Terrell’s son-in-law, Robert Thornton, said she is alert and is extremely grateful for Lovato’s bravery.

“She can’t believe that he came up and got her,” said Thornton, who calls her his mother. “If it wasn’t for that firefighter, my mother wouldn’t be here anymore.”

“Lovato told me he was just doing his job,” Washington Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Chief Gregory M. Dean said.

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