"Most people in my neighborhood don't leave [for work] until 7 [a.m.] or later," Sulewski said. "So who knows if anyone would have seen it [the fire] or noticed it before the trash men?

"Thursdays, they [Wood and his crew] come at 4 in the morning [to collect the trash] and Fridays, they come any time between 4 and 8, sometimes later, for recycle," she said on the weekly schedule for LJC, a contractor for Baltimore County that picks up trash and recycling.

Wood said it was fate that caused him to change his route and arrive at the Millers' house later than normal, but just in time to notice the fire that morning.

"I don't believe in coincidence, but I do believe that every moment in time is where you're supposed to be," Wood said. "And for whatever reason, that's where I was at that minute.

"Had I done Bathurst first like I normally would have done, I don't know," he said. "I believe the house would've really been burned a lot worse than it was, and I don't know if they would've lived or what.

"I think that something really bad could've happened," Wood said. "I'm glad they're alright, and I'm glad that we were able to do something good."

Helped by the American Red Cross, the Millers moved into a new single-family home on Sept. 17 that they will rent for four to six months while their home is rebuilt.

If given the chance to talk to Wood, Al and Jason again, Miller said he would have only one thing to say.

" 'Thanks for saving our lives, guys,' " he said. "It's real simple. Without them being there, we probably would not have made it."