Hernando County Deputy James Devorak ran into a burning house and pulled a man out, saving his life
10:35 PM, Jan 29, 2014
11:26 PM, Jan 29, 2014
BROOKSVILLE, Fla - Hernando County Deputy James Devorak seemed laid back when talking about being in the hot seat, literally, when he rushed into a fire ravaged home and saved a man's life Tuesday night.
"Would I do it again?" Devorak said. "Yeah."
Devorak was the first to arrive on scene at a house fire on Highpoint Boulevard in Brooksville around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
He immediately asked residents standing around if anyone was inside the home.
"The residents all stated no," Devorak said.
Flames 30-feet high shot from the roof, smoke billowed down the block and propane tanks exploded.
"It was horrible," said Carol Heintzlman, a neighbor who ran down to spray water on the brush surrounding the home in hopes the fire wouldn't spread. "It was very, very scary. It looked like our whole neighborhood was going up."
Through the noise of the explosions, Devorak was able to hear faint moaning noises coming from inside the house. He said he knew at that point someone was alive and in the house.
Without thinking, he ran into the house without protective gear. He wore only a patrol uniform.
Devorak couldn't see through the smoke, let alone breathe the entire two minutes he was inside the home.
"The moaning was to my right," he said. "I walked towards the right, kind of kneeled down, slouched, felt around. I felt an arm."
Devorak grabbed James Farrell by the arm and dragged him out of the house.
At that point, fire crews had arrived, and the fire chief helped Devorak carry Farrell to a waiting ambulance.
"His body was extremely hot when I grabbed hold of it," he explained.
With his adrenaline pumping, Devorak didn't immediately notice he singed his right hand. He told ABC Action News he is OK and didn't need treatment.
Farrell was subsequently airlifted to Tampa General Hospital. He is being treated for burns and smoke inhalation. He remained in intensive care Wednesday in fair condition.
He declined to comment to ABC Action News.
A preliminary investigation revealed the fire was intentionally set. The Fire Marshal is now investigating.
Devorak said he doesn't consider himself a hero and explained that he was just doing his job.
He has worked as a patrol officer with the Sheriff's Office for the past five years.
He moved to the Bay area from Long Island, New York.