RAINSVILLE, Al. – An Alabama man is being hailed a hero after witnesses say he single-handedly rescued nearly three-dozen firearms from a devastating house fire in the city of Rainsville, located three hours north of Montgomery, last weekend.
Authorities say Jacob Gentry, a twenty-nine year-old former cashier at Dollar General, risked life and limb when he ran back and forth into the blazing inferno, each time emerging miraculously unscathed with an armload of pistols, rifles, and shotguns. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Maybel Jefferies, who lives two houses down from the site of Sunday’s two-alarm fire, told WHNT News 19, a local CBS affiliate. “People talk about heroism, but to see it with your own eyes – there are just no words.”
The collection of liberated firearms –consisting of several pump and break-action shotguns; thirteen AR-15-style sporting rifles; a plethora of handguns ranging from single-action revolvers to a Cobray M-11 select-fire pistol; and even an antique Pattern 1853 musket dating back to the War of Northern Aggression– hold a combined value of nearly $120,000. “The state of Alabama owes a great debt to Jacob Gentry,” Governor Kay Ivey said during a surprise visit to Rainsville City Hall on Monday. “His selflessness and sacrifice in the face of certain death serves as a reminder of every American’s patriotic duty to preserve and protect our most sacred freedoms,” declared Governor Ivey.
National Rifle Association Regional Director Albert Hammond also praised Mr. Gentry, calling his actions a “major victory for the Second Amendment.” In a statement released Monday morning, Hammond said the NRA plans to present Mr. Gentry with a lifetime induction into its Golden Ring of Freedom program, and a limited edition AR-15 rifle made from melted-down aircraft aluminium recovered from the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks.
For his part, Jacob Gentry, a longtime friend of the homeowner, told WHNT News 19 that he doesn’t consider himself a hero. “I was just doing what anyone would have done,” the twenty-nine year-old Alabama native said. Investigators believe the inferno, which reduced the two-story single-family home to a pile of smoldering ash in a matter of hours, was likely caused by an improperly discarded cigarette. Three children, aged 4, 9, and 11, perished in the blaze.