‘We got to get them out:’ Oakland officers recount their rescue of couple trapped inside burning home

Couple is OK, but at least 9 cats, 1 rabbit are dead; 1 cat was saved, authorities say

OAKLAND, Fla. – Oakland police officers recounted their rescue that helped save a couple’s life after a fire broke out in their home.

“When we got her out, she had stated that her husband was still in there and that he couldn’t get out,” Lt. Angela Campbell said.

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Campbell and Detective Shawn Dozier described what happened when they said they jumped into action Tuesday morning after a fire broke out on West Gulley Avenue.

They said they helped rescue a couple who was inside.

Orange County Fire Rescue said at least nine cats died along with a rabbit, but through their rescue one cat was saved.

Campbell said that the couple helps foster cats.

“She did keep saying ‘Our cats, our cats!’ That’s why she didn’t want to come out, I mean at one point we had to literally, physically grab her and pull her out,” Campbell said.

Campbell said they focused their efforts on two windows where the woman was grabbed due to the fire engulfing the other side of the home.

She said Officer Renè Castro even used a fire extinguisher to smash one of the windows, and that’s when the mad dash began to find the woman’s husband who has a disability and was unable to get out.

“We broke the other window and the three of us flashed our lights, so he could kind of see where we were and we were screaming for him to come to our voice, once there he must’ve been able to get his arms up on some kind of shelf,” Campbell said.

Dozier said he then grabbed the man, pulling him to safety.

“I was about two seconds from going inside that house, she was trying to grab me back, but I was like ‘Listen we got to go, we got to get them out,” Dozier said.

Campbell said, “I could’ve lost him as well, you couldn’t see anything ... all black smoke.”

Since the rescue, people in the community have stepped up to help care for the couple and their cats.

“Something like this ... it touches your heart because these are the people you protect and that we help,” Dozier said.

The fire is still under investigation and the couple is said to be OK.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.