CALEXICO — Calexico police officers heroically pulled an unconscious woman from a burning mobile home Friday night after arriving first on scene to the fire in which one man died.
Police Detective Gabriel Rodriguez got there first and was advised by the homeowner that there were two people still trapped inside. Four people had already climbed through windows to escape the mobile home, which was fully engulfed.
Soon, officers J.C. Ramirez, Sean Acuña, Victor Flores, Orlando Espino, Tim McEntire, Sgt. Frank Uriarte, and Lt. Jesus Serrano also arrived, and together, they tried to open the back door of the residence as smoke poured out, McEntire said.
Rodriguez kicked open the back door and Acuña saw a woman, Martina Ojeda Leyva, lying about five or six feet from the door.
Acuña said it was extremely difficult to see through the smoke and “intensely hot but we just knew from what the other occupants said that there were still people inside and fortunately when we made the second entry we saw her to get her out.”
The team pulled her out as the heat and smoke pushed them back, and rescue breathing was administered just as Calexico firefighters arrived to take over stabilizing the woman.
“We were all concerned (about the danger), but it’s just one of those things. We were doing what we would hope any police officer would do for our family members,” Acuña said. “It’s a dangerous decision to try to help her, but we felt it was worth it to take the chance.”
The woman was flown out to the University of California San Diego Medical Center and was listed in critical condition as of Wednesday.
“We saw somebody and knew we had to go in,” McEntire said. “Everybody had their part. It was definitely a team effort. None of it could have been done without each of us doing a part.”
McEntire lamented that the officers were unable to also remove the man who died in the fire, Raul Ojeda, 65, as identified by the Imperial County Coroner’s Office.
Calexico fire officials on scene said it appeared that a space heater close to some curtains may have caused the fire, and both police and fire officials urge people to operate such heaters cautiously.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or email@example.com
This story was amended to correct the spelling of two names.