Ash and debris are all that remain of an unattached garage on McKamey St. Alert neighbors saved the day with their quick, life saving response. All at once, Shirley said her training with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) flooded back and she started yelling ‘Fire!’ as she ran down the block.
Photo by Andy Towle.
A garage engulfed in flames early Sunday morning prompted neighbors and firefighters to jump to action. What they did surprised even them, with one woman ripping open a locked door and a firefighter battling through a broken ankle.
At about 12:20 a.m., Andi Shirley was just about to fall asleep when she heard a blood-curdling cry from her niece Suanne Clyne. Clyne, 26, was working in the kitchen when she saw a blaze outside a neighbor’s home three doors down.
Without thinking, Shirley, Clyne and Shirley’s brother-in-law Kevin Dewitt ran out of the home and down the street. Meanwhile, Shirley’s sister Margo Clyne stayed behind and called for help.
All at once, Shirley said her training with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) flooded back and she started yelling ‘Fire!’ as she ran down the block.
As neighbors groggily wandered outside, Shirley, Dewitt and Clyne circled the home in the 600 block of East McKamey Street. Neighbors told Shirley they thought the homeowners were still inside.
Dewitt and Clyne raced around the back while Shirley ran to the front door, passing right in front of the unattached, fire-filled garage.
Adrenaline racing, Clyne broke out a back window with her bare hand.
Out front, Shirley found the security gate door locked.
“I was in some mode,” she said. “I grabbed that screened door and ripped it open.”
The inside door was also locked, so Shirley rammed her shoulder into it.
When it failed to open, Shirley was about to break a living room window when an older woman opened the front door.
“Her eyes were as big as saucers,” she said. “She didn’t have a clue what was going on.”
Shirley grabbed the woman and one of her dogs and guided her out the back door so she wouldn’t have to pass by the garage. Once outside, however, she realized there was no back gate and she would have to go out the front door.
Right then, a police officer arrived and guided the woman to safety.
Meanwhile, Shirley and Dewitt continued to search for another dog inside. Dewitt opened a bedroom door and found an older man asleep.
Shirley told the man he had to get out. When he stopped to put on his slippers first, she grabbed them and dragged him out.
A server by day, Shirley, 43, said she never experienced such a rush.
“I was ready to go on another call,” she said. “If I was 20 years younger I would love to be a firefighter.”
Adrenaline was also pumping through Payson firefighter Jarrett Cline who unknowingly broke his ankle while fighting the fire.
As firefighters worked to keep the fire from spreading to the home, Cline stepped in a hole and twisted his ankle, said Fire Chief Marty deMasi.
Cline continued to work, paying no mind to his foot. The next day, he went to the hospital and doctors told him his ankle was broken and he might need surgery.
“I guess it didn’t seem to bother him a whole lot at the moment,” deMasi said.
No one else was injured.
The garage was a complete loss. The side of the home had some heat damage. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, although it is not considered suspicious, deMasi said.