Man rescues St. Paul family from fire

Can we get a little Internet love today for Donnell Gibson, the kind of man you want living in your city?

He was driving to work in Saint Paul yesterday afternoon when he saw three young children, standing near their door, next door to a house that was on fire, the Star Tribune reports.

He could’ve kept going; he had to get to work afterall.

The kids didn’t know the wind made the fire jump to their house, too.

Gibson, 29, pulled a U-turn, jumped out of his car and began shouting for the children to get away from the house. Instead, they ran inside.

Gibson ran in after them and pulled them out, then ran back in — over and over again — to rescue the rest of the family — about 10 members in all.

And he got every one.

“It felt like when you open the oven door,” he said of the intense heat and danger. “I kept saying, ‘You gotta go, you gotta go, you gotta go NOW!’ ”

“It was a stranger who came to warn us,” a teenager in the house said. “I don’t know what would have happened if the man didn’t come into our house.”

“I had to act,” Mr. Gibson said.

Your turn, Internet.

Update 8:40 a.m. – Mr. Gibson has been in the news before. He was mentioned in St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s 2011 State of the City address.

For three years, the EMS Academy has provided low income residents with a pathway into the medical field.

Residents like Donnell Gibson.

Donnell was sent to live with his grandmother during middle school after his father went to jail. When his grandmother passed away, Donnell spent the next few years moving between more than a dozen foster homes.

By the end of his senior year, Donnell had no permanent home and was sleeping on different couches each night.

With the birth of his son, Donnell Jr., that same year, Donnell wanted to provide his child the stability he had not known.

He became the first in his family to graduate from high school. Through the support of teachers and mentors, Donnell found the EMS Academy.

Donnell is now a certified EMT, working full time in the city Parks and Recreation department and part time driving a patient transport van for Allina.

His dedication toward giving back to our community can be seen in his interactions with kids right here at Jimmy Lee as well as those he has mentored through our Youth in Transition program on the East Side.

There are thousands of kids in Saint Paul today who are facing some of the same obstacles Donnell did. Donnell, you are an excellent role model for those kids, for your kids, and for us all. Please stand and be recognized. Thank you for being here.


We will soon have more stories like Donnell’s through our Road to Success program. This effort that will help low-income residents obtain a commercial drivers license. This will open the door to many well-paying jobs along the Central Corridor or even for the city of Saint Paul.

The EMS Academy and the Road to Success program are examples of how, through education and partnership, we can tackle some of our most difficult challenges. They came to life through the creative work of Luz Maria Frias, our Director of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity. Let’s thank Luz for her leadership.

(h/t: Ann Brady)