AVONDALE, Ariz. — The quick action of an Avondale, Arizona, woman likely saved the lives of her neighbors., a family of six.
On New Year's Day, Carolyn Palisch was up early drinking coffee in her robe when she looked out the window and noticed smoke coming from her neighbor's roof.
"It didn’t look normal, and I thought to myself, 'they don’t have a fireplace,'" said Palisch, who asked her husband if he also smelled smoke.
"By the time he replied, 'I don’t smell smoke.' I was out the door."
The 63-year-old nurse sprinted over to her neighbor's door and began banging on the door, window, and doorbell.
"I just knew I had to get them out and get them up. That was my goal," she said. "I didn’t want to yell fire because I didn’t want to scare the kids. Because if you yell fire then they might scatter or go looking for possessions. Finally, David opened the door and I very calmly said, 'You need to get out. Your house is on fire.'"
The family was able to get their four children, all under the age of 12, out of the home safely.
"Immediately I grabbed my son. I told my older girls, 'Come on, let’s go!' And we ran out," said Nicole Salgado. "Then I came back in, after I gave the kids to Carolyn, I came back in to get the pets - two dogs and a bearded dragon."
"If they had been five minutes longer it would’ve been a catastrophe," said Palisch.
"The firefighters and cops told us it if it would’ve been a couple of minutes longer and no one would have noticed then when the roof caved in, all that smoke would’ve come in and we would’ve all inhaled it and we wouldn’t have woken up from that or been able to get out," said Salgado.
"A couple of days later I found myself crying because it’s just, it just kind of hit me. What an impact that made," said Palisch.
The neighbors casually knew each other before the traumatic incident brought them together. Now though, the Salgado family calls Palisch their guardian angel, and they share a lifelong bond.
"She knows she has a family now. We are going to forever be grateful to her," said Salgado.
"Now we are great neighbors. I told him they can’t move too far away because I can’t run real far," said Palisch, chuckling.
Unfortunately, the house is a total loss. The family lost all their clothes their only car, and they now have to move to start the new year.
Both parents work in healthcare, and mom, Nicole, is taking classes.
"They are basically starting over with no vehicle and four children. And that’s a lot, especially right now," said Palisch.
The outpouring has been incredible. In less than five days people have donated more than $34,000 to a GoFundMe to help the family get back on their feet.
"We’re overwhelmed, and thankful and grateful that there are so many kind people out there. And we wish we could hug every single one of them and tell them thank you," said Salgado.
Avondale Fire meanwhile, is still investigating what started the fire. They believe it originated in the garage.
This story was first published by Zach Crenshaw at KNXV in Phoenix, Arizona.