Four deputies hailed as heroes after running into a burning building to save man

EL CAJON, Calif. - Four San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputies are being called heroes after running into a burning building to save an unconscious El Cajon man.

Deputy Devin Kusler has been on the job for five years and said he has never done anything like that. He was the first to the scene after the call came in. A fire had started in the attic and was spreading. When he arrived, he expected to see the residents waiting in the front yard. Instead, they yelled for him to come in, and said a man was passed out in the attic, where the fire was burning.

Kusler ran upstairs.

"I saw the girlfriend standing over the boyfriend”, said Kusler. “Then I looked up and saw flames about 5, 10 feet away from him."

Kusler said the man was unconscious and was like dead weight on an unfinished attic floor.

The man weighed more than 200 lbs. and Kusler struggled to get the man through the cramped room filled with boxes.

"My eyes started burning”, said Kusler. “My nose started burning and my throat. Started feeling a little light headed.

Kusler said that was when his partner burst into the attic.

“He arrived right at the perfect time", Kusler said.

Deputy William Beers has been on the force five years, as well. He has worked with Kusler for the past three.

"We train together, we hang out outside of work”, said Beers. “We're a team."

But even as a team, they struggled against the heat and smoke -- their lungs filling with each deep breath and they started getting weaker.

"We would have to put him down and assess how we were going to carry him”, said Beers. “And what limbs we were able to grab on to."

As soon as they got the man out of the attic, deputies Benjamin Shea and Cassey Hawkins helped relieve the exhausted them and got the man to the medics waiting outside.

Kusler and Beers both suffered from smoke inhalation, but saved the man’s life.

"You know, I think... and it sounds so cliché”, said Kusler. “But I think it's just part of the job. It's what we sign up for."

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