Canandaigua woman has new goal after being rescued from fire

(Photo: Canandaigua Fire Department)

Canandaigua, N.Y. – The woman rescued from an apartment building fire in Canandaigua is out of the hospital and recovering – and she is sharing her powerful story with one goal in mind.

Firefighter Ben Cramer arrived at the scene alone Saturday to fight the fire – and there was no time to waste. On the other side of the thick, black smoke lay Michelle Fridley – scared and trapped.

“I remember thinking, I’m taking my last breath,” Fridley recalled.

With his helmet-cam rolling, Cramer entered the darkness – forced to find his way through the thick smoke by touch.

“I found, on the other side of the bed, a lady who was unconscious,” said Cramer. “She made some moaning noises, so I was very thankful that I knew she was alive.”

Within two minutes of his arrival, Firefighter Cramer made the rescue and, after what she thought would be her last breath, Michelle Fridley woke up in an ambulance.

“I really didn’t think I was going to make it,” she said.

Even with the lingering effects of the smoke on her throat and chest, Fridley felt it important to speak up and share her story.

“I’ve lived the experience. Now I hope I can at least save one person out there from going through what I’ve been going through,” she said.

Fridley is what she calls a proud quadriplegic and advocatewho had no fire escape plan. She knows this could have ended differently and she hopes to spare someone else the same pain.

“I’m hoping this accident brings awareness to the disability community and fire prevention,” she said.

Fridley knows this is a story she would not be telling without Firefighter Cramer. She hopes to have a different meeting with him – a chance to say thank you.

“He’s an angel. He saved me,” she said. “I owe them my life.”

Firefighter Cramer also rescued Michelle’s dog. Both are recovering, but everything was lost in the fire. Friends are now fundraising to help her recover.

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