ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – In a heroic effort, a St. Johns County Sheriff's deputy saved an elderly woman and her cat from a house fire Thursday in Molasses Junction.
Deputy Kyle Cubbedge told News4Jax that he was just in the right place at the right time. He said he was just a minute away from the fire when the call came in over the scanner, and any deputy would have done the same thing.
Cubbedge arrived at the blaze off County Road 13A, west of Interstate 95 in St. Augustine, ahead of fire crews, and found a barn fully involved, and the back of a house burning about 50 feet away.
The homeowner was spraying water on the house fire with a hose.
"I just told him, 'Look, let's try and get everyone else out of the house,'" Cubbedge recounted on Friday. "The only thing that was on fire was the back porch area of the house and the roofline and gutter line where the leaves were."
When the 23-year-old deputy told the man to get to safety, the man said his wife was still inside.
"That was my main concern -- trying to get to her," Cubbedge said. "I immediately jetted right in the front door and that's where I found her. She was in the kitchen area, on the scooter, and there was no ramp or anything. So, basically, I just picked her up to get her out of the house so we could get her out to the road, away from the house."
After he carried the woman, who is disabled and can't walk, to safety, Cubbedge placed her on a golf cart.
But his work wasn't finished yet.
"They were, like, 'Hey, our cat is still inside,'" Cubbedge said. "And I've grown up having cats and stuff. It's part of your family."
So he ran back inside, looked in the kitchen and then upstairs.
"It was curled up on the top of the stairs," Cubbedge said.
According to St. Johns County Fire Rescue, the first units at the scene found two storage buildings engulfed in flames and fire in the attic of a nearby home. A large column of smoke was visible from several miles away.
They put out the fire in the house first, before it could spread, and then extinguished the two outbuildings and some small brush fires that had popped up around the area. Florida Forest Services firefighters helped put out the brush fires.
Cubbedge said he's beyond thankful to the firefighters who showed up within minutes to put out the fire.
And as for himself, "Fortunately, God placed me in the right place at the right time and I was able to get there in a quick manner. But like I said, any other deputy sure would have been there and acted the same way that I did," Cubbedge said.
Cubbedge, who has been with the force for the last two years, will likely be nominated by his sergeant for his first lifesaving award.
No injuries were reported and no cause of the fire has been determined, firefighters said.