‘It hurt to breathe, it hurt to see’


It was 6 a.m. and Fullerton Police Officer Jeremy Viscusi was just starting his shift. Sitting in his patrol car, he turned the radio on and was about to go get gas when he heard the dispatch call about a fire in the 100 block of Valencia.

He sped off and was at the scene in less than a minute, arriving at the same time as Officer Matthew Green.

He and officer Green ran in to help.

“It was very smoky toward the back of the house,” Officer Viscusi said. “Our flashlights were useless and it hurt to breathe and hurt to see. By breathing in the smoke you can tell how hot it was.”

On Monday, Viscusi recounted the danger he and Green faced last week during a rescue that made regional news.

At the home, they found an elderly man on the porch and a woman inside, both with disabilities. Green helped the man get out of harm’s way and Viscusi helped the woman who couldn’t walk on her own.

He then returned to the house to make sure there was no one else inside. Once he was sure nobody else was inside, he rushed to the backyard to try to put the fire out. While he was in the backyard, he grabbed some PVC pipe to bust windows and sprayed water on the fire from a garden hose.

While there, he noticed a shed had caught fire and was burning in the next yard.

“Officer Green and I went next door and got those people out of their house as well,” he said.

Because officers do a shift rotation one Thursday a month, that day happened to be the first time Green and Viscusi worked together.

It’s a day that will be especially memorable as not only did they save a couple from a burning house, but they both were taken to UCI Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation and tested for carbon monoxide poisoning. The officers are fine and back on the job.

While most would hesitate to enter a burning, smoking house, for officers Viscusi and Green the decision was a simple one.

“There were people inside,” Viscusi said.