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Richmond hero risked his own life to save others in the Great Mass Rescue

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RICHMOND, Va. -- While the nation reels from the mind-numbing mass killing in Las Vegas, let's pause for a moment and remember an act of mass life-saving.

It was the day after Christmas, 1811, and may area families celebrated Boxing Day by packing into the year-old Richmond Theatre for a fresh French comedy.

Patrons included the governor, George William Smith, and many of the city's most elite citizens - 518 adults - many of them women - and 80 children.

As the curtain fell on the first act, a young stagehand raised a burning chandelier into some ropes and props and the fire spread behind the closed curtain.

By the time the alarm sounded, the fire was running away. Theatergoers panicked and many were trapped.

Among those responding, city blacksmith Gilbert Hunt, a slave.

He would save a dozen or so women and a noted city doctor.

And a dozen years later, he would do it again.

Watch Mark Holmberg’s video report on the Richmond hero who risked his own life protecting others in a ​time of crisis.