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This young couple crawled under flames to save a woman in a Vandenberg apartment fire

Maddison Henslin and Zachary Salce pulled a trapped woman from an apartment fire in Vandenberg Village Tuesday night. Salce said, “We were in the right place at the right time.”
Maddison Henslin and Zachary Salce pulled a trapped woman from an apartment fire in Vandenberg Village Tuesday night. Salce said, “We were in the right place at the right time.” Courtesy Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office

The smell of smoke led a young couple to discover that a first floor apartment in Vandenberg Village was on fire Tuesday night..

Moments later, they broke into the building and likely saved a life, according to a news release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Newly hired sheriff’s deputy Zachary Salce, 25, and Maddison Henslin, 21, are being lauded as heroes after they pulled a disabled woman from flames in the 300 block of Burton Mesa Boulevard. The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office is expressing pride about the connection to the couple; Henslin is the daughter of a sheriff’s detective.

When the two saw smoke pouring from the window of a nearby apartment, Salce knocked on the door and heard a woman screaming for help. The door was locked, so he ripped the screen off a window, but found it was too hot to open, the news release says.

He kicked in the door and “when it flew open, smoke and flames came barreling out,” the news release says.

The two crawled on the floor to the woman, who by that time was unresponsive. Together, they grabbed her body and dragged her out of the building.

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Santa Barbara County firefighters arrived on scene and were able to make sure no one else was inside as they extinguished the fire, the report says. The woman was taken to a nearby hospital.

“I am happy that we were in the right place in the right time and were able to do what we could to help,” Salce was quoted as saying. He was hired as a custody deputy in July 2018 and is attending the CORE Custody Academy at Alan Hancock College.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930; @MonicaLVaughan
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