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Port Joli’s hero: Queens RCMP nominating man who saved senior from burning building for bravery award

Travis Wolfe was plowing snow in one of the worst snowstorms this winter when he saw an explosion in a nearby home. He ran into the burning house and saved 76-year-old Catherine Parker. Now, RCMP want to nominate him for a provincial bravery award.
Travis Wolfe was plowing snow in one of the worst snowstorms this winter when he saw an explosion in a nearby home. He ran into the burning house and saved 76-year-old Catherine Parker. Now, RCMP want to nominate him for a provincial bravery award.

Travis Wolfe says it was all instinct when he ran into a burning building on Feb. 14 to try to save the two people inside.

The Port Joli man managed to save one – 76-year-old Catherine Parker – by pulling her from the burning building. Her husband, 89-year-old James Parker, perished in the fire.

It happened during one of the worst snowstorms of the winter. Wolfe was plowing snow for his grandparents on St. Catherine’s River Road in Port Joli when his grandfather told him there was an explosion over the hill.

The power was out, and police say the Parkers were refuelling a gas generator when an explosion occurred.

“All you could see was smoke,” says Wolfe, who knew the couple. He jumped off his tractor and ran through five-foot snowdrifts to the house.

“When I got there, most of one end of the house was gone,” he says.

It didn’t occur to Wolfe that he was putting his own life in danger – he just charged into the house.

“The first thing that came to mind was going in,” he recalls.

Inside, the smoke-filled home made it impossible for Wolfe to see anything.

“The only reason I knew Cathy was there, there was so much smoke, but I hit her with my foot,” he says.

“I couldn’t see her through the smoke.”

Wolfe grabbed Catherine and carried her outside in his arms.

“I didn’t know if she was alive or not. She was not responsive or anything but I didn’t want to leave her there either way.”

Once he got outside, he dropped Catherine in the snow and started vomiting from smoke inhalation. The coldness of the snow brought her around, he says.

“Before that, I didn’t think she was alive,” he says.

Wolfe knew Catherine's husband James was also inside, and still feels terrible he couldn’t rescue him as well.

“Once I knew he was gone, I was quite upset because I thought that I could have saved him, but what everyone says is there was no saving him even if I could have got in to help him.”

Firefighters were delayed from arriving at the fire because of the storm. It took 45 minutes for firefighters to make their way through the unplowed roads.

Wolfe says he’s gone to visit Catherine in the hospital but found the experience traumatic.

“It kind of brought back too many memories.”

Parker is now recovering from her injuries at Queens General Hospital. Wolfe does plan to visit her again now that she’s getting better.

Queens District RCMP Staff-Sgt. Derek Smith says police believe Catherine would most certainly have perished in the fire if it had not been for Wolfe's swift actions. That’s why Queens District RCMP are planning to nominate him for a provincial bravery award.

Wolfe isn’t sure if he deserves an award. He just says he did what he felt he had to do.

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