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SCV deputies reflect on woman's rescue

'We kind of escorted her out'

Posted: October 2, 2013 5:45 p.m.
Updated: October 2, 2013 5:45 p.m.

Sheriff's deputies Sean Caples (in driver's seat) and Patrick Ince at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station on Wednesday. The two deputies ran into a burning Canyon Country condo and saved a woman inside on Monday. Photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s deputies Sean Caples and Patrick Ince say they didn’t have time to think about it — they knew they had to enter the burning condominium because neighbors said a woman was inside.

“It wasn’t until we were at the hospital that we realized how terrible it could have been,” Caples said during an interview with The Signal on Wednesday.

The two deputies, who suffered smoke inhalation during the ordeal, successfully rescued a woman from her burning Canyon Country condominium about 2:45 a.m. Monday, despite her insistence that she couldn’t leave.

Ince and Caples were the first to arrive at the burning Claudette Street condo.

“We pulled into the alley,” Caples said. “We could see the light of the fire from both sides of the condo. Everybody was yelling that someone was trapped inside. They told us there was a woman inside.

“I knew we had to run in there right away because it was only going to get worse,” he said.

Smoke gathered in the doorway, he said, filling the hallway and preventing the two deputies from seeing inside the building.

The pair crouched down and ran to the back of the condo where they found a woman cowering in fear.

“The front door was open and we could see a layer of smoke,” Caples said. “We could kind of see a little. They (people outside) said she was in the back.

“We walked straight to the back bedroom,” he said, adding the smoke wasn’t “as strong” at the back as it was at the front of the condo.

“She was yelling for help to save her cat and her sister,” he said. “She didn’t want to leave.”

“We were trying to convince her to leave and, finally, we said, ‘Come on, it’s time to go,’” Ince said.

“My partner grabbed one arm and I grabbed the other and we kind of escorted her out,” he said. “Once we got outside, she was still screaming about her sister and we were going to go back in.”

But some of the people outside the building told them the sister — and the cat — had made it out of the building, the pair said.

About five or 10 seconds after the rescue, the sister already outside joined her rescued sibling, Ince said.

Then there came what sounded like a loud explosion, Ince said.

“I thought it (the fire) was going to get out of control,” he added.

The two deputies began telling people to leave the area for fear the other condos would also catch fire.

At that moment, firefighters with the Los Angeles County Fire Department arrived.

“They knocked it down pretty quickly,” Ince said.

Besides the two deputies, a firefighter and a woman were treated for minor injuries at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. It was not known if the woman was the one rescued from the fire.

While at the hospital the two deputies reflected on just how “terrible” things may have turned out had they spent another 30 seconds inside the burning building.

“We didn’t think about it; we just went in,” Ince said.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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