Port Joli hero heading to Ottawa for national bravery award

Travis Wolfe ran through waist-deep snow to pull neighbour out of burning home

In November, Travis Wolfe (centre) won a Nova Scotia Medal of Bravery for the same rescue. (The Canadian Press)

A Nova Scotia man lauded for saving his neighbour from a devastating house fire last year says he’s overwhelmed by the attention he’s received.

Travis Wolfe, 26, of Port Joli, N.S., will receive a Medal of Bravery from Gov. Gen. Julie Payette this week for rescuing his elderly neighbour from her burning home in February 2017.

Wolfe, who has already received a Medal of Bravery in Nova Scotia and has been hailed as a hero by his community, said he acted on instinct that day.

“I still don’t really consider myself a hero that much, to tell you the truth,” he said. “Everybody tells me I’m a hero. I just did what I hoped anyone would do for me if I was in the same situation.”

Neighbour’s house fire

During a Valentine’s Day storm in 2017, Wolfe said he was clearing snow from his grandfather’s driveway when an overheated generator exploded at his neighbours’ home over the hill, igniting a blaze that quickly enveloped part of the house.

The snow was waist-deep — too deep to drive over — so Wolfe ran to the home.

“One end of the house, where the generator was, was fully engulfed. The flames were already coming out through the walls,” he said in an interview Sunday. “I started hollering, to see if anyone would answer, and nobody answered.”

That’s when Wolfe said he decided to enter the building to see if he could help anyone inside, he said.

‘I carried her out the door’

It was too dark to see inside the house, Wolfe noted, so he felt around with his hands and feet and discovered his neighbour lying on the floor.

“When I carried her out the door, I had so much smoke in my lungs, I dropped her on a snowbank and I started throwing up and coughing,” he said.

The woman was airlifted to hospital in Bridgewater, N.S., while Wolfe was taken to hospital in Liverpool, N.S., for smoke inhalation.

In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Wolfe’s girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, told him that he could’ve died.

Ottawa ceremony

“I said, ‘I didn’t think about that at the time,”‘ he said. “You don’t really think about that kind of stuff.”

A second victim, the woman’s husband, died in the fire. Wolfe said firefighters told him the man was in the same end of the house as the generator, so he likely died almost right away.

The Medal of Bravery, which Wolfe will receive at a ceremony Tuesday morning at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.

Another Atlantic Canadian, Taylor White of Newfoundland and Labrador, will also be given a medal for saving a woman from drowning in New Harbour, N.L. last June.

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