On the ice, Mitch Torrel has played the role of hero on more than one occasion over the course of his young career. But earlier this week, the Wenatchee Wild forward embodied the true meaning of the word.
While driving back to his billet home on Monday afternoon after working out with the team, Torrel passed an apartment complex and noticed flames blazing from inside one of the windows in a room on the fourth floor.
That’s all Torrel needed to see as he sprung into action.
“I pulled my car over immediately and jumped out and dialed 911 to alert the fire department,” he recalled. “Once I gave them the location, I hung up and ran inside. There were no fire alarms going off, so the first thing I did was run to the nearest one and pulled it.
“The alarms started and I ran upstairs knocking on doors to make sure people were getting out and I assisted anyone who needed help down the stairs.”
Turns out, plenty of the residents did, as the building was an assisted living apartment complex.
“A lot of the people I was helping down the stairs had various physical disabilities, which made the stairs very difficult,” said Torrel. “Many needed walkers to move and quite a few had PICC lines in their arms.”
And with the fire department still en route, Torrel braved the elements to get as many people he could to safety.
“The smoke on the upper floors was extremely thick and burned my eyes and lungs,” he said. “I covered my mouth the best I could with my shirt and kept going door to door until two cops arrived and began to help me.”
Once firefighters arrived, Torrel, who will play hockey at the Air Force Academy next season, left the scene and returned home where it took him a couple of hours to recover from a sore throat and burning eyes.
“Everyone keeps asking, ‘What was going through your head?’ Well, nothing,” he said. “I was just reacting to the situation and trying to help make sure no one got hurt - nothing that someone else in my situation wouldn’t have done.”
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