Two Fort Benning soldiers were not even aware they were neighbors, and now share a special bond after a close call Saturday night, Dec. 14.
SPC Tristen Perez had just finished watching the Heisman presentation when he noticed something unusual through his backdoor window at around 9:30 p.m.
"I thought it was a bonfire at first," says Perez. "I didn't even know houses were back here. Once I investigated and saw that a house was on fire, I grabbed my flashlight, my cell phone, and just took off running."
Perez called 911 while running 150 yards through the woods, and jumping over two fences to reach the fire.
"I sprinted from the fence. Well, I fell over the fence," Perez laughs while he recalls the events. "But I sprinted from the fence all the way to the door. And I just started pounding on the door and trying to open it."
1SGT Michael Ascott says he had also just watched the Heisman presentation, and was all but half asleep in his recliner. His wife and 6-year-old son had already gone to bed.
"I continued to hear the bang, so I ran around to the side of the house, and that's where Specialist Perez was," says Ascott. "He was back there pounding on the door, letting us know that the house was on fire."
Ascott did the best he could to address the flames that were spreading through his garage.
"While all that was going on, [Perez] had gone through the house. He had found my wife, and my son, and helped them get out of the house," Ascott recalls.
Smiths Station Firefighters arrived within five minutes, and put the flames out before they could spread to the rest of the house.
Ascott says if it weren't for Perez, he may have lost everything.
"We had never met before in our lives," says Ascott. "He didn't know me. He didn't even know there was a house back here. For him to be willing to do everything that he did just to insure that everything was okay over here, I mean, there's no way that I can thank him enough."
Ascott says he has invited Perez to have Christmas dinner with him and his family in their home. He says the home still exists because of Perez's heroic acts.
Copyright 2013 WTVM. All rights reserved.