Allison Vahle, a New River resident and registered nurse, was awarded the Certificate of Commendation on May 24 for her efforts to save a woman from a house fire last year.
The morning of Election Day 2020, Vahle was driving her daughter Jessie to Diamond Canyon School.
Everything seemed normal until Jessie saw smoke coming from a nearby residence. The two rushed over and quickly noticed that the entire back bedroom of the house was engulfed in flames.
Upon arriving on the scene, Vahle realized only one other person had noticed the blaze.
“Nobody was out. Not even the neighbors had any clue that this house was on fire,” Vahle said.
Afraid help would not arrive in time, after a man had dialed 911, Vahle rushed to the front door, which was locked. The windows and back gate were also locked, so Vahle ran to an arcadia door in the backyard, where she found a woman sitting on the floor of the living room.
“My biggest concern was if anybody else was in the house,” Vahle said. “The woman told me it was just her cats, but because she wasn’t quite with it, I wasn’t sure that there wasn’t anybody in the house.”
After discovering the sliding glass door unlocked, Vahle opened it slightly and called to the woman, who was unresponsive.
“She was not responsive. She was not coherent whatsoever,” Vahle said.
Vahle rushed into the home and unsuccessfully attempted to help the woman to her feet.
The temperature began to rise, and the scene turned into something out of an action movie.
Alarmed by the sound of shattering glass and explosions, Vahle grabbed the woman by her arm and dragged her onto her patio.
Vahle and the unidentified man draped the woman in a blanket they found on the patio, which then began to ignite. The two quickly rushed the woman over to a corner of the backyard and waited for help.
All the while, Jessie had been waiting in the front yard, panicked that her mom had been trapped inside the burning home. During this time, Jessie answered her mother’s phone to a call from their close friend and neighbor Josh Miller, who thought the fire was on their street.
Miller ran over to their street to determine the location of the blaze. Realizing it was farther east than their neighborhood, Miller felt defeated.
But, at that moment, the Daisy Mountain Fire Department arrived on the scene. Fire officials broke down the bolted back gate and helped Vahle and the man carry the woman to the front yard.
The Foothills Focus previously reported that the woman, who was not identified, was treated for smoke inhalation; several cats and other animals in the home were casualties.
Vahle, who has not had contact with the woman since pulling her out of the house, said she hopes she’s OK.
In addition to being awarded the Certificate of Commendation by Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Chuck Hale, Vahle was also awarded a Certificate of Special Recognition from Rep. Debbie Lesko on the same day.
“I’m humbled by this award, but really, I’m most proud of Jessie for being aware of her surroundings and making a big deal about that,” Vahle said. “If not for her, I would have driven right past it that day.”
Though she has saved many lives while on and off the clock as a RN, Vahle hopes that her actions that day will inspire others to be brave in similar situations.
“I would like to think that anybody else in that situation would have done the same thing,” Vahle said.