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RED BANK: FIRE HERO ARRESTED FOR THEFTS

Robert Womble at Red Bank borough hall in December, 2011, when he was honored for heroism. (Click to enlarge)

A Red Bank man cited for heroism in the 2011 fire that killed a cousin of William ‘Count’ Basie was arrested Tuesday for two car burglaries, borough police said.

Robert Womble, 52, faces charges of stealing valuables from a vehicle parked on East Westside Avenue on May 22 and from another on West Sunset Avenue eight days later, police said.

Womble was one of two men who entered the burning home of 64-year-old Phyllis Rudrow on Drs. James Parker Boulevard on September 18, 2011, pulling her to safety from the smoke-filled structure.

Rudrow died of her injuries four days later.

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TWO CITED FOR HEROISM IN FATAL FIRE

Kristopher Parker and Robert Womble at borough hall Wednesday night. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Kristopher Parker was dropping off his grandmother at the Evergreen Terrace apartments in Red Bank when he saw the smoke from the tiny house set way back off the street and ran toward it.

Robert Womble had just finished an early supper with his grandmother at the same complex when neighbors began screaming that there was a fire next door. Out the door and over a tall chainlink fence he went.

Both men, who did not know each other, converged on the back porch of the burning house, alerted to the possibility – the awful near certainty, in fact  – that an elderly woman was inside.

“These men never hesitated, they just reacted,” said Red Bank borough Administrator and Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels. “They did what trained people hesitate to do, and they did it without helmets, without protective gear.”

What they did on September 18 was to kick in the back door, which was blocked by piles of junk, and make their way through black smoke toward to the desperate voice of Phyllis Rudrow, crawling part of the way, even as Parker communicated with a 911 dispatcher via a Bluetooth cellphone device in one ear.

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WOMAN BURNED IN RED BANK FIRE DIES

rudrow-10209Phyllis Rudrow at the October, 2009 dedication of a bust of her cousin, Count Basie, flanked by benefactors Ray Brennan, left, and Dr. Gene Cheslock, right. Her home after the fire, below. (Click to enlarge)

rudrow-houseA woman rescued from a fire at her Red Bank home on Sunday has died of her injuries, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.

Phyllis Rudrow, 64, died Wednesday afternoon at the Burn Center at St. Barnabas in Livingston, he said.

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