Paraplegic man rescued from Apache Junction fire

Posted at 6:31 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 11:27:46-04

An Apache Junction man is lucky to be alive after a fire nearly claimed his life when his mobile home went up in flames.

The fire started after a propane tank exploded inside his home near McKellips and Saguaro roads. The Pinal County Sheriff's Office is calling two men heroes for risking their lives to save the 59-year-old man, a paraplegic, who could not make it out on his own.

Neighbor Dave Higley, a father of six, rushed over when he heard a loud boom.

"At that point, the windows were covered with flames on the inside, and it was pretty hot, and it looked like at that point--it looked like a total loss,” Higley said.

When he reached his neighbor's door, he heard him yelling for help.

“We could hear Zach calling for help, and he’s a paraplegic," he said. "He was crawling on the ground, so (I) just kind of grabbed him and pulled him to safety."

Another neighbor, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran, had ripped open the door and held it open as Higley got the man out.

Higley’s father then helped pull the victim to safety on the road just in time before another explosion.

“We were very fortunate that we could get him out because another 30 seconds and we might not have made it," Con Higley said.

“I just did what anybody else would do," he said. 

But his dad knows his son better.

“Not everybody has that kind of character," Con Higley said. "He (Dave) has that kind of character." 

Tuesday afternoon, the victim's mother was out on the property looking through the damage. She told ABC15 she was grateful to the neighbors for saving her son's life.

According to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the victim suffered second and third degree burns to about 30 percent of his body. The victim's dog also made it out of the fire okay.