As fire threatens an elderly couple’s house, officer enters and carries wife to safety

A young St. Johns County sheriff’s deputy says helping an elderly woman and her cat get out of her burning home Thursday evening was just one of the many things he was trained to do, but all the attention afterward may take a little getting used to.


Deputy Kyle Cubbedge, 23, told The Record on Friday that it was a pretty good feeling knowing that he was able to help the woman, whose home was damaged by a fast-moving fire on her property.

“It’s a better feeling actually doing it than after and all the flash,” he said, smiling during one of at least three interviews with reporters on Friday.

The day before, Cubbedge was the first person to arrive at a structure fire in the 500 block of County Road 13A South.

Upon his arrival, he spoke with the 86-year-old property owner, whose barn was on fire.

“When I got there (the flames) had fully engulfed the barn and were coming to the house,” he said.

According to Cubbedge’s report of the incident, the owner was in his backyard with a garden hose trying to keep the flames — which had started igniting leaves in the gutters — off his home. The man told Cubbedge that his wife was inside.

When Cubbedge found the 84-year-old woman, she was seated in an electric scooter and told him she was unable to walk.

That’s when he told her, “Let’s pick you up then and get you out of here,” he said.

Cubbedge said he carried her out to a small golf cart where her husband joined them. Cubbedge told them to drive the cart out to the road to put some distance between them and the house.

That’s about the time the couple told him about their cat. Cubbedge went back to the house, found the pet and brought it to them.

By that time, he said, flames had reached the back of the house, which was starting to fill with smoke.

Cubbedge cleared two other nearby houses, getting everyone to safety near the road.

The fire destroyed two out-buildings and damaged the back of the couple’s house.

A St. Johns County Fire Rescue representative said Thursday night that responding firefighters found fire in the attic of the home and were able to extinguish the flames shortly after arriving. “Rescue got there really fast and were able to save the house,” Cubbedge said.

Cubbedge, who was hired on at the Sheriff’s Office two years ago after serving as an intern and in the Explorers program, said all the attention was a new experience for him, but he spoke matter-of-factly about his actions the day before, calling them simply “part of the job.”

“Any deputy would have done the same thing,” he said.