2 Honored for life-saving efforts in Peoria house fires

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- The Peoria Fire Department held a ceremony Wednesday morning to honor two Peoria residents for their life-saving efforts.

Firefighters presented awards to 10-year-old Alina Stewart, who alerted her sleeping parents to a fire at their condo, and Arizona Army National Guardsman Sam Pineda, who helped his neighbors escape their burning home.

Around 11:30 p.m. on June 29, Alina woke up to find her family's condo involved in a fire which was spreading from a nearby townhome.

"My glasses started to get foggy," she said.

Before the smoke alarms went off, Alina rushed to wake her parents. She also grabbed the family pet on her way out of the home.

"It's a really humbling experience knowing that your child saved your life and that of your husband," said Alina's mom, Angelita Stewart. "It's amazing. I'm very proud of her."

The fire at the complex near 107th and Northern avenues trapped three teens in another condo, but they are recovering after being rescued by firefighters.

"I was worried about the other people around me because I hoped they got out, too," Alina said.

The Stewart family was one of three families who lost everything in the fire, so Alina's award also came with some new toys.

Pineda was returning to his home on the 8500 block of Malapai Drive, near Peoria and 91st avenues, on Aug. 26 when he saw a fire at his neighbor's house.

Pineda immediately called 911 and checked to see if anyone was inside the home.

He noticed young children trying to hop the backyard fence, and he jumped into the yard to help the family to safety.