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Newspaper delivery man gets West Valley woman out of burning home

'I'm just a good Samaritan who did a good deed,' Magna man says

WEST VALLEY CITY — A man delivering newspapers early Tuesday helped rescue a woman from a burning home.

Despite praise from firefighters who responded to the blaze, Matthew Hoagland said he doesn't consider himself a hero.

"I'm just a good Samaritan who did a good deed, I was here at the right time," Hoagland said, returning to the scene of the fire after finishing his delivery route.

Hoagland, of Magna, was driving the route he has been delivering for a little over a month about 5:15 a.m. when he came up to the home of one of his customers, a woman who lives at 4020 Dennis Drive in West Valley City.

He doesn't even know the woman's name, he said, but seeing a light in the open garage, he thought he'd walk up and deliver the paper in person.

But once he got a better view, Hoagland looked inside and could see the passenger door of an SUV that was open with flames spewing out of it. The fire was growing fast.

"I just stopped, grabbed my phone, and while I was calling 911, I ran up to the door and knocked on it as hard as I could to get her out of there," Hoagland said.

As Hoagland stepped away to check the house number, the woman came stumbling outside, confused and sleepy.

"You could see she was just stunned," Hoagland said.

Meanwhile, firefighters arrived at the home to fight the growing blaze.

"When we got here, there was a large volume of fire coming out of the garage," West Valley Fire Battalion Chief Bob Fitzgerald said. "It had vented, and it was just a big wall of flames all across the front of the house."

Firefighters took on the flames from outside the home, then moved to where the fire had reached the attic, Fitzgerald said.

Hoagland said he stood with the woman as firefighters worked, looking at the burning house and thinking of the home he and his wife are saving up to buy.

"That was sad to see, because I bet you she worked hard on that house," Hoagland said.

But once police had come over and talked to Hoagland, the delivery man, who also does contract work for the U.S. Postal Service, had to get moving again.

"I'm on a timeline on that one, to finish the routes. I just had to go. I gave the officer all the information and just gave her the newspaper and I left," Hoagland said.

Fire crews quickly extinguished the blaze and worked through the morning to douse hot spots, Fitzgerald said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The fire is believed to have caused at least $150,000 in damage.

But without the newspaper delivery man, Fitzgerald said, "things could have been (very) different."

But for Hoagland, only one thing matters.

"I'm not looking for gratitude, I'm just glad she was safe," he said.

Contributing: Peter Samore