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Lompoc couple saves disabled neighbor from burning apartment

(UPDATED 10:00 p.m. Wednesday)

A Lompoc couple just provided a heroic example for the term love thy neighbor.

The daughter of a sheriff’s deputy and a newly hired Santa Barbara County Custody Deputy sprung into acton Tuesday evening.

Fire officials say had these Good Samaritans not intervened, the outcome would be far from a happy ending.

It was just an average Tuesday for the 21 and 25-year olds, home around 8:00 p.m. watching TV and finishing up some work.

“I saw the smoke coming from the downstairs window, I went over and started banging on the door to try to figure out what’s going on and I heard screaming for help from the inside,” said Zachary Salce.

The faint smell of smoke and a muffled beeping sound were enough to prompt Maddison Henslin and Zachary Salce to investigate around their Vandenberg Village Apartment complex.

“We were just trying to find the safest way to get in possible and the fastest way and once we realized the windows were a no go it was kind of just get in that zone get it done, get her out of there,” said Henslin.

Once Salce determined that his downstairs neighbor’s front door was locked and the windows were too hot to open, instincts and adrenaline replaced fear.

“I didn’t hear any crying for help at this point and with the heat coming off the windows I knew it was probably pretty serious so I decided to kick the door in,” said Salce.

“I never really thought that we could get hurt it was more of a thought of is she OK? Once we saw her feet and we realized she was on the floor we knew we needed to get her out,” said Henslin.

Guided by the flames, the only light inside the Diplomat Apartment, the couple crawled on their hands and knees, pulling their unresponsive neighbor out of the inferno to safety.

“It was almost zero visibility the smoke filled 3/4 of the apartment so we were literally crawling through underneath as much smoke as possible,” said Salce.

Salce is currently enrolled in the Allen Hancock Custody Academy, where he recently completed a training drill for a similar situation.

“You want to remain calm control your breathing and stay under the smoke if you can that was definitely sitting in the back my mind all going through this,” said Salce.

Firefighters call their actions nothing short of heroic, giving new, heartfelt meaning to the phrase in the right place at the right time.

“We’re thankful honestly, relieved, as long as she was OK the whole night that’s all that we kept worrying about because that’s s all we care about,” said Henslin.

“I think we did what anyone in the same position would have done,” said Salce.

Last we heard, the woman, who is said to be in her 50’s, suffered some burn injuries and is still hospitalized in Lompoc.

(5:00 p.m. Wednesday)

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says the two neighbors that saved the disabled wife from the Vandenberg Village apartment that caught flames on Tuesday have close ties to the Sheriff’s Office.

25-year old Zachary Salce and 21-year old Maddison Henslin, rushed to the scene when they smelled smoke.

“I am happy that we were in the right place at the right time and were able to do what we could to help,” said Salce.

Salce is a newly hired Custody Deputy, and Henslin is the daughter of a Sheriff’s detective.

The couple says they smelled smoke and saw smoke coming out of the window of a first-floor apartment at The Diplomat Apartments.

Custody Deputy Salce knocked on the door and heard the woman screaming for help.

Realizing the door was locked, Salce began to rip off the window screen off but discovered the window was too hot to open due to the fire.

Salce then kicked the door down releasing a wall of flames and smoke at the couple. Salce and his girlfriend Henslin began to crawl on the floor until they reached the woman who was unresponsive and lying on the floor.

Henslin grabbed the woman’s legs, Salce grabbed her upper body, and together they carried her out of the apartment.

The woman was transported to the hospital with injuries.

Salce was hired by the Sheriff’s Office as a Custody Deputy in July of 2018 and is currently attending the CORE Custody Academy at Alan Hancock College.

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A phone app alerts a husband that his house is on fire and his disabled wife is trapped inside while he is in Santa Barbara.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department responded to a structure fire at The Diplomat Apartments at 325 Burton Mesa Road around 8:02 p.m.

Public Information Officer Mike Eliason with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department says the husband was alerted to a fire in his apartment by an app on his phone while he was in Santa Barbara. The husband could see smoke filling the apartment and his wife’s disabled walker.

Eliason says the wife was saved by 2 neighbors that heard her cries for help.

Firefighters responded to the apartment and knocked down the fire in 6 minutes.

Nearby apartments were evacuated as a precaution during the fire.

The wife was transported to an area hospital with minor, and the husband is en-route to meet her.

The apartment suffered major smoke, and fire damage and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The name of the phone app was not made available at the time of the report.

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