GCI tech jumps into action, saves neighbors from burning home
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Palmer-based GCI employee rushed into action recently, saving a couple and their two dogs from an early morning house fire. He insists it was just the neighborly thing to do.
As GCI Outside Plant Maintenance Technician Jeff Payton was getting ready for work on June 16, he stepped outside and heard the crackling of fire coming from the directions of his neighbors' home.
"The loud, big fire kind of crackling. I rushed through my five acres toward the sound and saw smoke coming from the eaves of the neighbors' house," said Payton. "I ran home and called 911. My neighbors had also called 911, and the dispatcher asked if I had a ladder because they were trapped on a second-floor deck."
Payton's GCI vehicle is equipped with a ladder, so he jumped in and drove over to his neighbors' home to lend a hand. When he arrived, he saw thick black smoke pouring from the house and his neighbors outside on the deck, gasping for air. He said it was hot and heard explosions coming from inside and knew there wasn't much time before the whole house would be engulfed.
He quickly grabbed the ladder off the van and set it up, helping the couple down. The fire department arrived soon after.
"When the firefighters got there, they treated me like one of the team. They climbed up onto the deck and heaved the two dogs down to me," Payton said. "Then I directed traffic as more firefighters arrived, but I was able to get my ladder back onto my GCI vehicle and still made it into work on time."
"The whole GCI team prides itself on being a good neighbor to our customers and community members. Jeff epitomizes that mindset. He's always willing to go the extra mile, or in this case, five acres, to ensure our customers in the Valley stay connected," said Vice President of GCI Network Operations Chris Burns. "That's why I was happy, but not surprised, to hear that he stepped in to literally save his neighbors' lives. We're so proud to have Jeff on the team."
Raised in farm country in the Midwest, Payton said he, his family, and friends had to take it upon themselves to stay safe and take care of these types of situations, so there was never a question in his mind that he would take action.
"I don't feel like a hero," Payton said. "This is the kind of thing that an Alaskan does for a neighbor. It's especially like that here in the Valley."
Payton has been with GCI for more than 24 years and has been a face of the company in Palmer for the past 18.
Headquartered in Alaska, GCI provides data, mobile, video, voice and managed services to consumer, business, government, and carrier customers throughout Alaska, serving more than 200 communities. The company has invested more than $3 billion in its Alaska network and facilities over the past 40 years and recently launched true standards-based 5G NR service in Anchorage, now the nation's northernmost 5G service area. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Broadband Corporation (Nasdaq: LBRDA, LBRDK, LBRDP). Learn more about Liberty Broadband at http://www.libertybroadband.com.