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Marines Help Rescue 3 in Vista Apartment Fire

November 29, 1987

Three persons, including a 3-month-old boy, were rescued Saturday with the help of four Marines after fire swept through a second-floor apartment in the 300 block of Los Angeles Drive, the Vista Fire Department reported.

The fire erupted at 9:49 a.m. when unattended food on the stove caught fire.

Tamara Brown, 20, and her sister-in-law, Velma Joann Barnes, 15, yelled for help out their bedroom window, drawing the Marines' attention, Vista Fire Marshal Paul Dawson said.

He said Michael W. Soale, 21, stood atop the shoulders of fellow-Marine Douglas Shoemaker, 25, and caught the baby, Kristen Jeremy Brown, as he was handed through the second-story bedroom window.

Meanwhile, two other Marines, identified as Douglas C. Moore, 22, and Norman Gomez, no age available, tried to reach the two adults inside the bedroom by breaking down the front door.

Dawson said both men were driven back by the flames and smoke from the kitchen and were unable to reach the back bedroom despite repeated attempts.

Barnes jumped out the second-story window, but Brown remained in the bedroom until the Fire Department arrived and lifted a ladder to the window, Dawson said.

"The Marines took some very serious risks in an attempt to save lives," Dawson said. "We were very impressed by their efforts."

The two women and the baby were taken to Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside for observation and were released, and the Marines were evaluated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Dawson said.

The apartment was 75% gutted, with $25,000 damage to the structure and $10,000 to its contents, Dawson said.

He said that the smoke alarm in the apartment was inoperative at the time of the fire and that Brown had previously complained to the apartment building owner that it was not working properly.

State law requires operative smoke alarms in multifamily units, Dawson said.

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