Neighbor Pulls Man Safely Out Of Blaze


John Ryan doesn't remember much about Wednesday night, but he does know he's lucky to have a fast-acting neighbor like Joe Martin.

"All I know is that Joe pulled me out of the excitement," Ryan said Thursday from his hospital bed.

Ryan said he owes his life to Martin, his 21-year-old neighbor, who pulled him out of his burning home Wednesday night on West Frontier Street.

"He's a real hero," Ryan said.

Martin said he had just stepped up to his front porch after returning from a friend's house late Wednesday night when he heard Ryan screaming next door. Martin ran next door while his fiancee, Tami Jo Hill, called 9-1-1.

"I went over and there he was, kneeling on all fours in his front room," Martin said. "The house was full of smoke. I just grabbed him and drug him out to the front porch."

But the danger wasn't over. While Martin and Ryan were sitting on the front porch waiting for help, fire began creeping along the porch ceiling, just above their heads, Martin said.

"I ran back into the house and started unplugging things," he said. "I thought it was probably an electrical fire or something. Then I went back and checked on John again --that's when Marty deMasi (of the Payson Fire Department) came up and helped me drag John down to the sidewalk. Yup, Marty's my boy."

Ryan suffered smoke inhalation and a cut on his right hand. He was admitted to Payson Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Within two hours, 17 firefighters were able to extinguish the fire. Fire investigators said the probable cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking materials. Total damage is estimated at $35,000.

"The Payson Fire Department would like to recognize Joe Martin for his heroic act in assisting his neighbor," Payson Fire Marshal Jack Babb said.

From his hospital bed, Ryan spoke frankly about the fire that destroyed nearly everything he owned, saying he felt lucky because he didn't lose the things he holds dearest.

"I'm still alive, and so are my two dogs ... that's all that really matters."

The 58-year-old said he expects to be released from the hospital today (Friday) and will pull his 28-foot motor home over to a friend's house.

"I guess I'll be living in that for a while," he said. "But that's OK. I've lived in worse places."

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