Last month, Northeast Police Chief David Brown talked about his idea to enlist homeowners to coach apartment residents on how to form their own crime watch organizations in Lake Highlands.

Brown believes that there are many more law-abiding citizens in apartment complexes than there are criminals. Not only that but, take it from me, they can be great neighbors.

Picture this: My house nearly caught fire – with me and two kids inside it – but it didn’t, thanks to some quick thinking by apartment residents who live across the alley. If you’d been around that day, you’d love apartment residents, too.

It all started when my daughter – an only child – had one of her very first play dates. After getting the kids settled with food and games, I decided to celebrate a rare moment of solitude by taking a long shower. (The kind where muddy little fingers don’t unexpectedly fling open the shower door while a voice screams: “Mom, look what I found crawling on the fence outside!”)

Anyway, I was in my reverie for what didn’t seem all that long, but when I turned off the water I heard a ruckus outside. I went running down the hall – in a towel – then looked through the back window to see two police officers, some firefighters and a crowd of strangers in my back yard.

Naturally, I began a frantic search for the girls, who were hiding under a bed, frightened by the noise. I collected them and – still in my towel, mind you – we rushed outside.

The back yard was scorched but the fire was out. I made everyone promise to wait while I dashed inside to put some clothes on, then they told me what happened.

Something blew up in a transformer in the alley, causing sparks to fly over my back fence. Conditions were just right for my yard to catch fire. Some apartment residents I’d never met saw the whole thing from their perch across the alley. They called 911 and then, very thoughtfully, came over to alert whoever might be home.

The fire was creeping toward the house, and they got no response when they knocked, so these strangers – two young men and a woman – came into my yard, turned on my hose and put water on the fire until the big red truck came down the alley.

By the time we met, they were hot, sweaty and exhausted. I was shaking and stunned. I wrote down everyone’s name (including the cops’) so I could thank them properly when I was more composed.

I said goodbye to the police and firefighters, but as the neighbors started back across the alley, I was overcome with gratitude. I threw my arms around the woman’s neck, hugging and thanking her again and again for her concern.

“We are so lucky to have neighbors like you,” I said.

If you would like to meet some of your apartment neighbors, there’s a new group designed with that in mind.