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In the heat of the night
Men save woman from fire
2 Fire pic 1
Brandon Payne, left, and Robert Mooney are being called heroes after pulling a 53-year-old woman from a burning room Sunday at Dawsonville Suites, an extended stay motel in downtown Dawsonville. - photo by Photo/Tia Lynn Lecorchick

Two men are being hailed as heroes after pulling a 53-year-old Dawsonville woman from a burning apartment Sunday night.


“Those guys, right there, are heroes,” said Alan Watson, who said his brother-in-law owns Dawsonville Suites, a downtown extended-stay motel where the fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.


The complex’s owner is listed as Nadine Gravitt, of Cumming, on Dawson County tax records.


Brandon Payne and Robert Mooney were enjoying Sunday night’s cool fall weather outside Payne’s home, just four rooms down from the fire, when Mooney heard what he thought was a phone beeping.


The pair walked from apartment to apartment listening through the front windows for the sound.


As the two approached apartment 50, they noticed a faint smell of smoke and then heard a woman inside the apartment scream.


“She was screaming that she couldn’t get out,” Mooney said.


After unsuccessful attempts to enter the apartment, Payne kicked in the front door and rushed to the back bedroom.


“The smoke wasn’t too bad in the front room,” Mooney said. “But when I opened the bedroom door, the smoke just covered me. I couldn’t see nothing. It backed me up.”


Inside, Mooney found a 53-year-old disabled woman, who had lived in the extended stay motel for about two months, lying on the floor near the back door.


Authorities have not released the woman’s name.


Mooney picked her up and took her out the back door while Payne rushed to put out the fire, which had engulfed the bed.


“I had to go in four or five different times with the fire extinguisher,” Payne said. “You couldn’t breath in there.”


When they pulled the woman from the fire, she was still holding a cross necklace, one of only a few possessions she owned.


“When she moved here, she didn’t have much of anything, no furniture,” Payne said.


“We helped her get furniture. I bought her a TV myself.”


The fire was almost completely extinguished when emergency personnel arrived, said Dawson County Fire Inspector Capt. Jeff Bailey.


“They did the right thing by getting her out first and then calling us,” he said.


The woman was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, but refused transport to a hospital, Bailey said.


No one else was injured in the fire, which appears to have started in the back bedroom.


The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, Bailey said.


The fire marshal is also investigating the building’s fire sprinkler system, which, according to Bailey did not operate properly at the time of the fire.


“That woman could have died. I’m just glad they (Mooney and Payne) were there to save her. It was incredible,” Watson said.


The Red Cross made arrangements for the woman to stay at a local motel, Bailey said.


According to Bailey the sprinkler system was operating correctly during the complex’s last certificate of occupancy evaluation, which was about 1 year ago.


The complex was due for its annual evaluation any day, said Watson.


E-mail Michele Hester at