It was a heroic effort by a rookie firefighter.
He tore a hole in the wall of a burning building with his bare hands, to save a woman in Tehachapi.
Paul Abarquez has only been with the Kern County Fire Department for six months.
But, his inexperience did not get in the way of rescuing a woman from almost certain death.
On Sunday, he was on loan to the Tehachapi fire station when a call came through that there was home on fire in the 21200 block of Mission Street.
While putting out the fire, Abarquez heard a faint scream.
“From right there I just dropped my hose and I fell to my knees,” Abarquez said. “I look for a little purchase point on the siding. I just ripped a piece off. It just happened to be right where she was. So I looked in, and I saw her feet and grabbed her ankles and just pulled her out in one swoop (and) she came out.”
The smoke was so intense it choked the landlord, Italo Lakoseljac, as he rushed to the scene.
“I tried to go in the front door, but it was full of smoke,” Lakoseljac said. “I checked the sides. I checked the doorknobs to make sure they were cool to go inside. I could not go inside. It was too much smoke.”
Neighbors who witnessed the fire praised the quick response of Abarquez in giving the woman a second chance at life, though he doesn’t really think much of the event, chalking it up to a day’s work on the job.
“I am glad I was right there to pull her out and I hope she makes it,” Abarquez said.