When Shirley Haggard woke up from an afternoon nap Tuesday, she immediately had a feeling she needed to visit an apartment she was scheduled to move into the next morning. That gut feeling saved the belongings, and possibly the lives, of her soon-to-be neighbors.
Haggard, 74, had intended on starting her move to South Ash Street the very next day, but she already had a key to the apartment, so she decided to go over and plug in the phone.
When Haggard arrived and unlocked the door, smoke poured out, and she heard alarms buzzing inside.
"I saw flames coming up from behind the stove," she said. "I panicked.
"One of my first thoughts was, ‘There are a lot of kids that live around here.' I was afraid for them and for myself."
Upstairs, Randy Cooper heard the alarms coming from the opened door.
"I ran down the stairs and saw the smoke and the flames," Cooper said. "When I saw those flames I knew that they would spread fast. It doesn't take long. So I got her out and called 911."
The Payson Fire Department responded within minutes.
"It's very fortunate that she came here when she did," said Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi. "It appears there was a small hole in the flex (propane gas) line. That's all it takes, and this one wasn't even old."
"She's a blessing from God," said Teresa Tappan who manages the apartments. "If she hadn't come down here to plug in her phone, it could have been horrible. There are so many children who live here. It could have been terribly horrible."
But Haggard doesn't want any credit. Instead, she thanked her new neighbor, Cooper, and the fast response from firefighters.
"It is just God's blessing that I did come down," Haggard said. "I thought I could call my son tonight if the phone was working. I guess we'll have more to talk about now."
Chief deMasi said the neighbors did the right thing.
"If you have gas service and you smell a leak, exit the building right away and call 911, and give us the location. But call from somebody else's house."