When a grease fire began to engulf Mary Rabun's condo in Oceanside on Thursday, she grabbed one of her two cats and fled the flames. By the time firefighters arrived, she was safe -- but frantic with worry over Roxy, her second cat.
So firefighter Brian Morrison did the first thing that came to mind: He broke a window, entered the burning building and found Roxy lying lifeless near the back door, fur covered in soot. He carried her outside and put on an oxygen mask -- then returned to fight the flames.
In a matter of minutes, Roxy was up and about.
"To say I was hysterical is probably putting it mildly," said Rabun, who is living at her mother's house while recovering from a burn on her head. "I have met a lot of angels over the last couple of days. He's my hero."
Firefighters said Roxy was trying escape.
"You could see his little paw prints where he had been kind of pawing on the window, looked like trying to get out," Capt. Andrew Stotts said.
Rabun says she doesn’t know what she would have done if she had lost her.
"She was in tears," Morrison said. "You realize that some people's animals are more important, if not the same, as a family member."
The cats, other than being a little timid, are doing just fine. In fact, this is save number two for Roxy who two years ago was part of an abandoned litter found behind a restaurant.
Forever grateful, Rabun says she knows exactly what she'll do the next time she sees firefighter Brian, as she calls him.
"The first thing, I would give him the biggest hug in the world," Rabun said. "He literally saved my heart."