There are few acts more courageous than entering a burning building to make sure everyone gets out alive.
But that's exactly what Bobby Stetter did earlier this week when five units were destroyed in an early-morning fire Monday that gutted an apartment building at 218-220 Lloyd St. in Altoona. Three apartments in an adjacent building also were damaged.
According to Damian Baughman, who lived in the building with his girlfriend, residents awoke at 4:30 a.m. to timbers crashing. Entrances were blocked, flames were blazing, heat was intense, thick smoke limited breath and vision, and the building was fully engulfed within minutes.
After waking a friend, Steve Yerty, with whom he was staying, Stetter ran back into the building three times to alert other residents.
Yerty and others credited Stetter with saving three people.
"Bobby Stetter is a hero," said Heather Mercer, who wasn't home when the fire broke out.
Stetter declined to be interviewed, but we agree with Mercer and offer him a special thumbs-up.
Others worthy of thumbs-up, thumbs-down mention:
Speaking of fires, thumbs-down to Napoli Recycling of East Norwich, N.Y., which owns the former Russo Building along 31st Street in Altoona that burned - for the latest time - in May. Damage to a second-story wall from the arson fire closed 31st Street essentially between Sixth and Beale avenues for two-plus months. The abandoned and dilapidated building has been the site of a number of fires. Following initial clearing, the city gave Napoli three weeks to finish demolition of the damaged in order to open the street, but the company failed to comply, according to City Manager Joe Weakland. The Mirror has been unable to reach Napoli, which has either hung up when contacted or not returned messages,
Thumbs-up to five businesses that will comprise the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame's Class of 2012. They include Alpha (formerly known as Cookson Electronics), Child Advocates of Blair County, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Altoona and Hoss's Steak & Sea House. Each will be inducted Oct. 15 during the annual Business Hall of Fame dinner at the Blair County Convention Center. The Altoona Tribune will be honored in the heritage category.
Thumbs-up to Altoona native Julianne Biddle, the reigning Miss Teen Pennsylvania International who is striving to make a difference in the lives of teens through her pageant platform: "educate to eliminate teenage suicide." Biddle, a 2012 graduate of Altoona Area High School, recently sponsored a suicide prevention and awareness banquet in Altoona.