‘Hero’ UF student recognized for helping seniors escape fire at Clearwater residential facility

A young woman was recognized for her heroic actions when an assisted living facility caught fire last week.   

Madison Rushe had just finished her shift in the dining room at the Regency Oaks Senior Living facility in Clearwater, when she learned a fire had started upstairs.   

"I just threw my belongings and ran up to help evacuate residents," she recounted to FOX 13.  

Clearwater Fire Rescue was on the way, but there was no time to wait -- so Rushe and others worked to get the older residents to safety.   

"We had about 40-50 residents we needed to get out immediately. Some were coming down willingly others we were helping carry down the stairs with walkers and such," she said. 

David Sowers with Clearwater Fire Rescue says her quick thinking made their job easier.  

"She saved a lot of lives by doing that because smoke inhalation can be very deadly, especially for the elderly," Sowers stated.  

Many of those seniors are still displaced but no one was hurt. 

On Thursday, Rushe, a student at the University of Florida, was recognized for her courage. Chargebacks911 doubled her scholarship through Finish Line to $500.  

"It’s overwhelming. I’m being called a hero and I’m like, I just work in the dining room… I’m not a hero, I just care about my residents a lot. "