Maryella Haynes had just finished preparing dinner for her family Tuesday and went outside to check on her kids when her granddaughter came out, yelling about a fire.
“I just started talking to the kids and before you know it my granddaughter ran outside saying the house was on fire,” Haynes said.
A batch of tater-tots she had started for her granddaughter caused a grease fire, filling the house with smoke.
Haynes’ Lancaster Lane neighbor, Sgt. Michael Richardson of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rdInfantry Division, had just gotten home when his door bell and a frantic girl set him into action.
As he ran to Haynes' house, smoke was pouring out and Haynes’ elderly mother was lying on the front door threshold. She's blind and unable to walk.
"I got the mother as far as I could out of the house. But I didn't want to drag her over the bricks, so I waited for Brandon to come help me with her," Richardson said.
Sgt. Brandon Ziegler is also a neighbor and friend. Ziegler, of the 233rd Heavy Equipment Transport, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, was alerted by Richardson’s wife.
"Chelsea came running over, busted through the door, saying ‘Call 911,’” Ziegler said. “My son was outside playing and I assumed something had happened to one of the kids, so I jumped up and ran outside. As I passed her she said ‘Mary's house is on fire,’ so I automatically grabbed my fire extinguisher from my garage and when I got there Michael was pulling a lady out."
After getting the mother to safety, the soldiers went inside to get her wheelchair. They entered the home three times, the last two to extinguish the spreading grease fire using three fire extinguishers.
Richardson said he didn't think about his own safety.
"Not really," the sergeant said. "It was a big fire, but it was contained to the kitchen and we had ways to get out. And there were two of us. Brandon always had my back and I always had his.”
After the fire was out, the Hinesville Police officers and firefighters took over.
"Words just can't describe how they ran in there without any concern to themselves," Haynes said. "It was just really beautiful and I thank them for it!"