Woman saves neighbor from condo fire

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – A Valley woman says she owes her life to her neighbor.

Patricia Taylor lost pretty much everything when her condo on Seventh Avenue south of Camelback Road caught fire at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. She escaped with her two dogs thanks to a neighbor who spotted the smoke and jumped into action.

Dawn Zeigler was smoking a cigarette on her patio when she smelled a different kind of smoke. She spotted that smoke billowing from Taylor’s second-floor condo across the way. Without thought for her own safety, Zeigler ran over and pounded on Taylor’s door, waking her up and saving her life.

"There was too much smoke," Zeigler said. "I know about smoke inhalation and how you can die."

Taylor said there was a smoke detector in the condo, but she did not hear it because she was sound asleep.

“If my neighbor hadn’t knocked on my door, I would not be here,” Taylor said. “I absolutely would not be here. It happened in like three minutes. The flames went everywhere. … She saved my life.”

Taylor said there was so much smoke she couldn't see. Zeigler guided her outside.

"I'm only here because of her," Taylor said.

Taylor was not injured, and while she was able to save her two dogs, her cat is missing.

There are a total of four condos in Taylor’s building. After helping Taylor out of her burning home, Zeigler woke the other neighbors and called 911.

Firefighters were able to contain the fast-moving flames to Taylor’s condo, but the other three units sustained some smoke and water damage.

Taylor’s unit was gutted. She was allowed inside briefly to salvage what she could before crews boarded up the condo for safety reasons.

Investigators said the fire started in Taylor’s kitchen. They believe the combination light and vent above her stove might have caused it. Taylor said she, like many others, generally leaves that light on when she goes to bed, using it as a night-light and never dreaming it could spark a fire.

"We are so grateful for Dawn," said Taylor's son, Joseph. "She saved a lot of lives."

While firefighters, Taylor's family and Taylor herself are calling Zeigler a hero, she modestly shrugged off the title.

"I'm just a neighbor," she said. "[I'm] just helping my neighbor. That's all."

"She's more than a good neighbor," Taylor insisted emotionally. "[I'll] love her forever. ... Love her. ... She's a godsend. She really is."

The Red Cross was on the scene to help Taylor and her neighbors who were affected by the fire.