Man Sets Himself on Fire After Fight Over Sword: Deputy

A San Diego County Sheriff's Deputy dodged exploding ammunition to rescue a man from a mobile home fire in Borrego Springs Thursday.

Twenty-year veteran sheriff's deputy Alvin Vasquez wore two hats Wednesday night ,keeper of the peace and lifesaver to the very man he would otherwise have to arrest.

"He is seriously injured and I'm hoping the injuries won't cost him his life," Vasquez told NBC 7.

Vasquez was the first on scene at the mobile home on Dog Leg Place in the senior living community called The Roadrunner Club.

He was responding to an argument between neighbors over a sword.

Deputies say the ordeal started with two men, ages 65 and 54, began fighting in a mobile home park on Palm Canyon Drive at 4:30 p.m. One of the men pulled out a small sword.

As they struggled over it, both received non-life threatening injuries before returning to their respective mobile homes.

When Deputy Vasquez and State Park Rangers arrived, they confronted the 65-year-old on his front porch and ordered him to walk to them. 

Instead, he pulled out a knife, turned and ran inside, locking the door behind him. He then grabbed a can of gasoline.

"He doused himself and the area with gas, and he unfortunately used a cigarette and lit himself on fire," said Vasquez.

The deputy did not hesitate. He tried to get inside twice, but the fast-moving fire stopped him from reaching the man. As loose ammunition started exploding because of the heat, the man crawled to the front door, and Vasquez pulled him out to safety.

"The next thing I saw was a body being dragged out of the house, and the individual's clothes was on fire. So that was a little dramatic," said Bob Smith, who was watching over a fence.

Vasquez said the 65-year-old man was conscious and inebriated, but in a great deal of pain, when he was airlifted to the UCSD Burn Center for severe burns, as well as sword injuries.

Sheriff's officials say the man was the main aggressor and the 54-year-old involved was a victim.

The sheriff's bomb/arson detectives are helping with the investigation.

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