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Big Country man honored for saving woman from fire

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BRECKENRIDGE, Texas - A Big Country man is getting national recognition for saving a woman's life -- he's receiving the Carnegie Hero medal after pulling a woman from her burning home last September.

Isbel Jimenez was eating a bowl of cereal at about 3 a.m. when he looked outside his Breckenridge home and saw the fire, but when he heard the screams, he knew he had to take action.

It turns out his neighbor was inside and unconscious. Her boyfriend was screaming for help outside of the burning house.

The Breckenridge fire chief said there's no question she would have died if Jimenez didn't pull her out.

We caught up with Jimenez -- or Izzy, as he is known -- on the job in Abilene. He's a cement finisher by day, and he was still taking in the news of the award.

"I guess I'm still kind of numb," Jimenez said. "I'm not really sure how to take it. I mean I feel really honored and I'm just really happy all is well right now."

He recalled the morning of the fire and said he was initially going to capture the blaze on video before he heard the screams.

"[I] put my phone in my pocket, rushed back in, got me some rubber boots and rubber gloves and jumped the fence, and it just happened," Jimenez said. "After that it was just pure adrenaline."

Jeannette Marshall, 60, was unconscious inside the house. Jimenez said he couldn't see or breathe, and he had to take a break to go outside and catch a breath.

The second time he went inside, he felt her.

"I felt her on the floor," Jimenez said. "I felt her arm and grabbed her. All I could do is drag her to the window and push her out."

The Carnegie Hero medal is given to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. It's been awarded to heroes since 1904.

"The criteria are stringent and largely unchanged from our inception, and I think it's very inspiring for people to be made aware of the actions of those heroes," said Eric Zahren, the executive director of the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

Marshall was still too upset to talk about the incident, but her daughter sent us this statement.

"I'm truly grateful for Mr. Jimenez saving my mother's life when others couldn't," Lisa Marin said. "It takes a courageous person to do such a selfless act knowing he was risking his own life to rescue my mother. I can look at my mother everyday thanking God that she is still with our family. I don't know what I would have done if I would have lost my mother that night. My heart would have been shattered because she's my best friend. I'm truly grateful for Mr. Jimenez because I still have my mom here with me. Mr. Jimenez deserves recognition for his heroic actions in saving my mother's life that night. Without him our family wouldn't have our mother/nanny, and we will forever be grateful for Mr. Jimenez."

Jimenez said he doesn't consider himself a hero but understands how others might. He said he'd do it again.

"I believe in helping each other out," Jimenez said.

He said he plans to visit Marshall this weekend and said he'll give her a big hug.

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The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission hands out medals four times a year. The executive director said about a quarter of those honorees sacrifice their lives while trying to save the lives of others.

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