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Woman who aided Jim Thorpe fire victim downplays her role 'Corrie' Miller remains in critical condition after suffering severe burns

Published December 12. 2009 09:00AM

The woman who rescued a disabled Jim Thorpe woman from the porch of her burning home early Wednesday morning doesn't believe she did anything extraordinary.

"Some people are calling me a hero. I don't look at it that way. I just did what needed to be done," said the woman, who asked that her name not be published.

Corrine "Corrie" Miller, 58, of 306 South Ave., remained in critical condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township, as of Friday evening, hospital staff said.

Miller's rescuer is a neighbor who said she was awake at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday because a painful medical condition kept her awake. She happened to be standing near her back door when she heard cries.

"I thought it was an injured animal," she said. "It was only when I heard words that I realized it was a person. I just followed the sounds," she said.

The screams led her to Miller's porch.

"She was on fire. I pulled her off the porch and threw snow on her," the woman said.

After dousing the flames with snow, the woman ran to a neighboring house where Dennis Balliet, who she knew, lived. She pounded on the door to wake him for help. Balliet, along with a firefighter named Chris and several others, helped comfort Miller, whom the woman said was alert and talking. She was moved away from there burning house, until emergency crews got her into an ambulance.

Miller was taken to the hospital by ambulance rather than medical helicopter due to weather conditions.

Miller, the woman said, was worried only about her service dog, Molly.

"That woman was on fire and all she cared about was her dog," the woman said.

The woman saw tracks in the snow and followed them around the house, where she found Molly, terrified but unhurt. Once Miller was safely in the hands of the ambulance workers, the woman took the pet to her home and called her veterinarian. Molly was taken to Lehighton Animal Hospital, where she was examined and given oxygen. The animal hospital and the Jim Thorpe Pet Center both gave the woman dog food for Molly.

The dog is now with the person who took care of her when Miller, a retired Carbon County Career and Technical Institute guidance counselor, was away, the woman said.

Firefighters arrived within moments after the woman pulled Miller off the porch. The house was engulfed in flames. Authorities believe Miller called the Carbon County Communications Center at 3:30 a.m., saying her house was on fire and that she could not get out.

Miller, according to published reports, lived on the first floor of the two-and-a-half-story half-double home.

Jim Thorpe Fire Chief William Diehm said that a state police fire marshal is investigating the blaze.

As Miller struggles for her life investigators examine the rubble for clues as to what caused the fire, the woman who came to her rescue shrugs off any accolades.

"I just happened to be at my back door (when I heard screams)," she said. "God wanted her to have some help. I feel anybody would have done that."

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