SYDNEY, N.S. - A Cape Bretoner who risked her life to rescue two elderly women from a burning apartment building has become the first woman to win a Nova Scotia Medal of Bravery.
Claire Collier, 64, received the medal from Premier Darrell Dexter during a ceremony in Halifax on Wednesday.
Collier was the superintendent of the 12-unit building in Sydney when the blaze began on April 16, 2008.
She ran into the building, buzzed the apartments to warn tenants, and raced up to the second floor where she knew there were two elderly residents.
Collier got one woman to leave, then needed to force open a jammed door to get the other senior out.
The second woman nominated Collier for the award.
Collier said she didn't think twice about entering the building.
"You just automatically do what you should do and, of course, save somebody's life if you can and make sure they are out," she said. "My biggest fear was smoke inhalation but you don't realize how fast fires spread until you see it."
Collier was one of three Nova Scotians awarded medals Wednesday.
Douglas Baird of Aylesford saved a person who fell through the ice while skating on a lake.
William Smith of Walton was travelling along Highway 215 in Cambridge when he came upon a burning vehicle overturned in a ditch. Hearing a young girl's calls for help, he acted quickly to pull her from the back seat and carry her to safety.
This is the second year the medal of bravery has been presented.