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Council lauds fire heroine

Carole Cotten has been honored for her heroic efforts in leading 36 people to safety Feb. 24, when the Masonic Temple building went up in flames.

Cotten, the owner of Dynamics Unlimited, a gymnastics school formerly located on the fourth floor of the building, said she smelled smoke during one of her early evening classes.

She gathered the children and led them and other instructors down four flights of stairs.

Dunkirk firefighters were arriving as she led the group to a safe location a few blocks away. Cotten called all of the children's parents and stayed with them until they were returned to their families.

City leaders honored her Tuesday with a plaque presented during the regular meeting of the City Council.

Mayor Richard Frey praised Cotten as one of the reasons he is proud of the community.

The gymnastics school was one of several businesses in the Masonic Building, which was destroyed by the fire that damaged adjacent structures.

No one was injured.

More than 150 employees were displaced when their offices or businesses were destroyed or damaged.

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