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A welcome fit for a hero

By Staff | May 8, 2016

Gunhammer, a BEA fourth grader, holds a newspaper copy of a story about the fire.

Nicasio Gunhammer says he doesn’t really feel like a hero and he really did not like all the attention he was getting last Monday night at the Blue Earth City Council meeting.

The 10-year-old Blue Earth Area fourth grader received several awards including the key to the city of Blue Earth for his heroic actions last March 9.

So did his father, Eduardo “Eddie” Zamarripa?Jr. The two were honored for saving the life of their neighbor, Francisco “Frank” Salis, during a house fire.

Gunhammer was on his way to school that March morning when he heard the smoke alarm going off in a neighbor’s house.

“I heard the alarm and I knew what it was,” he relates. “And, I saw the smoke coming from the house.”

Members of area fire departments, ambulance squads and law enforcement gathered with Francisco Salis and the two heros who saved him from a fire at his home in Blue Earth, Nicasio Gunhammer and Eduardo Zamarripa Jr.

He ran home and told his father about it.

Zamarripa ran across the street and went up to the front door. By then there was smoke everywhere in the house.

Without hesitating, he kicked the front door in and heard Salis inside yelling for help. It took him two tries to find his neighbor and pull him out of the house to safety, with the help of some other neighbors.

“This act of heroism and bravery will be forever remembered and honored in Blue Earth,” said Blue Earth Fire Chief Roger Davis in presenting the award.

Salis said he also is forever grateful for the father and son’s efforts in saving his life. His daughter, Stella Thompson, also expressed thanks to everyone who helped save her father’s life, including all the emergency personnel at the scene.

Salis is now going to be living with his daughter, Thompson, in Texas, and was back for the special ceremony.

Several dozen emergency personnel were on hand for the award ceremony as well. Besides the Blue Earth Fire Department, the Winnebago Fire Department, Blue Earth Police Department, UHD?Ambulance and the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office were all at the scene of the fire and all of them had representation at the Monday night ceremony.

Salis was well-known in his neighborhood near the intersection of Fourth and North Moore streets.

“Everybody knows him as Frank,” chief Davis says. “He always has helped everyone in the neighborhood, whenever he can.”

Salis said that is correct, he just liked to help out in any way that he could.

“Now my neighbors have helped me,” he said. “They did more than I?did they saved my life.”