True Hero: Massachusetts Man Who Lost His Family to a Fire Saves a Woman from One 20 Years Later
Rowley, Massachusetts fire
Over Labor Day Weekend, according to WCVB Channel 5, a fire sparked in Rowley, Massachusetts at the Wethersfield Street home of Deb Shanahan. Luckily her next-door neighbor, Mark Collum, was up bright and early (it was 5a on Sunday) and had both noticed the smoke and flames at Deb's house, as well as heard her screaming about the fire.
Without thinking, Mark tossed some clothes on and ran next door, into Deb's house, and pulled her outside to safety. As if that's not an amazing feat in and of itself, it's an extra level of incredible for Mark personally.
Mark lost his family 20 years ago to a fire
According to WCVB Channel 5, back in January 2008, Mark went through a massive tragedy and loss following a fire that broke out at his then-Ipswich, Massachusetts home. Although he wasn't home, his wife Lisa and their two daughters, Lindsay and Carly, were trapped on the third floor of their home and unfortunately weren't able to make it out.
There's no possible way that Mark doesn't think about his family or that incident (or both in tandem) every single day of his life. It's just human nature to have that reaction. And it would've also been understandable human nature if Mark had seen those flames and that smoke billowing out of Deb's house next door, and left it at just calling 911 and waited for first responders to attempt to rescue Deb.
This whole event seems like something straight out of a Hollywood movie. In fact, parts of it even closely resemble a storyline in the early episodes of the FOX TV show, 9-1-1.
Robert Nash on 9-1-1
The FOX TV show 9-1-1 first premiered back in January 2018 and follows members of Los Angeles, California first responders -- mainly firefighters, police officers, and dispatchers. One of the main characters, played by actor Peter Krause, is Captain Robert (Bobby) Nash.
Long story short, Bobby used to be a member of the St. Paul Fire Department and was married with two kids. While in St. Paul, Bobby had left his apartment in a rush and forgot to turn off a gas fire heater, which ended up sparking a fire that engulfed the entire apartment building. Unfortunately for Bobby, in that blaze, his entire family of his wife and two children lost their lives. It goes without saying (although, it's evident on the show), that while performing his job as a firefighter/captain, the loss of his family in said fire constantly weighs on his psyche. Actually, it makes you wonder if the Bobby Nash character could've been inspired by what happened to the Collum family.
In essence, Mark faced what could've been his biggest fear -- the exact monster that ripped his family away from him 20 years ago, and in true hero fashion, stood toe-to-toe with that same monster and slayed that beast. What he wasn't able to do 20 years ago because he wasn't physically home to do so, he didn't think twice about 20 years later.
It takes a brave, selfless person to run into a burning building to try and save a life or multiple lives before the fire and smoke take them first. But it takes a special kind of heroism and bravery to face not only the flames and smoke in front of you, but also the ones inside of your memory, and overcome them both to save a life.
Clearly, Mark Collum is a special kind of hero, and thanks to him, Deb Shanahan is alive and well. The world could use more Mark Collums.