FORT RUCKER, AL (WDHN)— Two military men had an unexpected encounter after coming across a house fire in Bonifay and experiencing what one says was “probably the bravest thing I’ve ever seen.”
On, October 9, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nigel P. Huebscher from Fort Rucker and his family were traveling north of Bonifay when they noticed flames on the porch area and going up the side of the house. They pulled their vehicle into the driveway of the home and Huebscher’s wife, Devi, called the local police immediately.
Looking around the scene, Huebscher saw the gate to the property was locked and had fence rows surrounding it. Huebscher jumped the gate and ran to the house, seeing a large pile of rags burning on the wooden porch with a gas can nearby. He grabbed the gas can and threw it away from the house.
An elderly woman met Huebscher at the door of the house, and he asked if anyone else was in the home. The woman seemed confused, mumbled a response, and tried to go back inside the home. Huebscher led the woman down the stairs of the porch and away from the house, and then entered the home, where he found an elderly man sleeping.
Huebscher woke the man and repeatedly told him the house was on fire. The elderly man eventually got up from the bed and was led to the door by Huebscher. By this time, the smoke has grown thick and the outside of the home was engulfed in flames. While trying to exit, flames came across the open doorway, and the elderly man turned and started to go back into the bedroom.
Around this time, Florida Air National Guard Major Bradley J. Vaughn and his family had also arrived on the scene and saw that the elderly woman needed help.
From the time that we pulled over to the time that I got to the house, the house fire had gotten exponentially worse. As I hopped out of the truck there was a little bit of smoke, but I could make out the front porch and the front door. But as I got done helping the woman get to the gate, with all the flames and smoke I couldn’t tell where the front door was anymore,Major Bradley J. Vaughn
Vaughn said he heard Huebscher’s wife, who was on the phone with 911, yelling “My husband went in the house.”
Vaughn attempted to get near the home, but the flames and heat stopped him from going inside. He said popping could be heard inside.
Huebscher, who was still inside with the homeowner, quickly shoved the man and himself through the doorway, and out of the house.
Out of nowhere, a blockbuster movie, all of a sudden I see this man come tumbling out — he was flying out through the smoke with an old man, and they both kind of spill out in the smoke and fall.Major Bradley J. Vaughn
After going through the door, the house exploded and fire shot out, with flames quickly scorching the yard. Huebscher said he stumbled forward in the yard, and the elderly man fell down and was still in harm’s way.
Huebscher saw Vaughn run into the flames to get the man to safety.
Watching Vaughn go into that fire was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever seen. I got the guy out of the house, but he would have died on his front yard if weren’t for Brad Vaughn.Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nigel P. Huebscher
Others arrived on the scene and offered assistance. Huebscher and Vaughn moved the man to safety and gave basic medical attention while asking if anyone else was inside. The three moved once again to avoid a powerline falling into the driveway.
The elderly residents of the home were taken by ambulance for medical assessment. The man was later airlifted for medical treatment for burns and is expected to fully recover.
Huebscher is a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot assigned to the Officer Training Branch, Directorate of Training and Doctrine, at Fort Rucker, Alabama, was traveling north on Florida State Route 79, returning to the Wiregrass area from his family’s trip to Mexico Beach.
Vaughn is a senior air defense officer at the 601st Air Operation Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and his family was headed south, back to the Panama City Beach area from a trip to Aplin Farms.