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Local Students Honored for Courage Under Fire

Corte Madera's Jim Kelly and Mill Valley's Sawyer Shine will be in the spotlight at Thursday’s 2012 Marin County Heroes Breakfast in San Rafael for their quick thinking during a fire on Hill Street in February.

Two local heroes are being heralded for their fast actions that saved a life and a lifetime of memories recently.

Mill Valley sixth grader Sawyer Shine, a 12-year-old , is being honored Thursday by the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter at its 2012 Marin County Heroes Breakfast in San Rafael, along with his friend Jim Kelly of Corte Madera, for their courageous acts . The pair sprung to action that day, coming to the aid of an injured cat and a woman who lived next door to the house that caught fire.

Since they did so, the boys have been the recipients of plenty of publicity, as well some recognition Monday night from the Mill Valley City Council.

Sawyer Shine is clearly not interested in milking his newfound eminence.

“I’m glad that I could help – that’s all,” he said.

“He’s sort of like, ‘Enough already,’” said his mom, Marianne Shine.

Mill Valley Fire Chief Jeff Davidson told the City Council Monday night that he understood Shine’s nonchalance but was thrilled to honor Shine and Kelly just the same.

“When you’re a Boy Scout, you just do what you do – you don’t expect adulation or recognition,” Davidson said. “It was very unsung. But it’s important and appropriate to honor them for what they did.”

What they did was administer oxygen to a cat injured in a Feb. 3 fire at 16 Hill Street, as well as help a neighbor in retrieving valuables from her home next door to the fire.

It was around 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon and Shine and Kelly were about to jump on their bikes with friends and head to to play basketball when Shine spotted “a bunch of black smoke” coming from the house across the street.

He sprinted to his house nearby to get a fire extinguisher. As neighbors and bystanders arrived, Battalion Chief Mike St. John asked the duo to care for a cat that had been in the home, which had sustained moderate fire damage but extensive smoke damage largely because a large amount of electronic devices and plastic materials burned in the fire, giving off a "thick, black smoke that spread throughout the house," according to fire department officials.

Shine said he initially thought the cat had died when it was first brought out of the home. The cat was covered in soot from the black smoke. Someone pulled out a cardboard box and firefighters gave Shine a little oxygen mask and asked them to administer it to the cat.

“The cat started looking better and better (and later fully recovered),” said Shine, who handed the cat over to officials from the for additional treatment.

The boys then turned their attention to Kathy Kertez, who lives next door to the house fire and was told to vacate her home in case the fire spread down wind. Shine and Kelly made a half-dozen trips in and out of Kertez’s home to remove her computers and family photos and other valuable items and put them in her car.

Shine stayed at the scene until after 6 p.m., drawing the playful ire of his older brother Cooper, who told Marianne, “I think Sawyer is overstaying his welcome with the firefighters.”

“I went and asked the firefighters and they said, ‘He’s the best – he’s been helping us a ton,’” Marianne Shine said.

“I was just in the zone,” Sawyer Shine added.

Shine said his parents Marianne and Mike Shine will be joining him at the event, as well as his grandmother and Mary Allaire, the director of the Allaire School in Corte Madera where Shine attends. Davidson will be there as well.

For a list of the other people who will receive awards at the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter’s 2012 Marin County Heroes Breakfast at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael, click here.

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