Pa. boy, 14, uses ladder to rescue woman from fire

November 23, 2011 - 11:40 AM

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) — Emergency officials are crediting a 14-year-old western Pennsylvania boy and a rickety wooden ladder with saving a 74-year-old neighbor from her burning home.

New Castle Assistant Fire Chief David Joseph says Justin Ritchie heard his dog barking and a woman shouting for help about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. He went outside to find Charlene McMasters shouting out a second-floor window of her home.

Ritchie grabbed an old ladder and put it up to the window so McMasters could climb down, warning her that it might not hold her. The ladder broke as McMasters was 10 feet off the ground. She fell and broke her pelvis.

But she's thankful nonetheless. McMasters is in Jameson Memorial Hospital. She praises Ritchie and says, "Without that ladder, it could have been a lot worse."