A retired police officer rescued a wheelchair-bound man, his wife and a caregiver Wednesday as smoke from a garage fire filled their Moorpark home and flames darted through a kitchen door.
The blaze in the 11000 block of Elwin Lane was spotted before 9 a.m. when Elizabeth Wilhelm, who shares the house with her 76-year-old husband, Carl, heard noises in the garage, Venture County fire officials said. When she opened the door, she saw a fire roaring inside.
Mike Chilton, a retired Santa Monica police officer living nearby, was taking out his trash when he saw the smoke.
"I saw this black column of smoke and I immediately knew it was a structure fire," said Chilton, 45. "I went in the house and I just grabbed [Carl Wilhelm] out of bed, wrestled him into the wheelchair. His wife and the caregiver were absolutely horrified. The house was full of smoke and flames were shooting through the door."
Chilton got the Wilhelms and caregiver Jilma Guinea out and went back to search for any others. Then he grabbed a garden hose and tried to keep the blaze under control until help arrived, he said.