Disabled Woman Dies Trying to Escape House Fire in Ramona

Three SDSO deputies were hospitalized for smoke inhalation they endured while trying to reach the woman

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A disabled woman who was trapped inside a burning home in San Diego’s East County was killed early Monday in the fire, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO).

The woman has been identified as 61-year-old Debi Hester, SDSO said.

Just after 2:30 a.m., Hester called 911 screaming for help but was unable to give authorities her address. SDSO deputies with the Ramona Sheriff's Substation drove to the area and found a house fire on the 500 block of Telford Lane in Ramona. There, they learned one person was trapped in the burning structure.

Sheriff's deputies tried several times to reach Hester trapped inside the burning home. However, flames quickly consumed the home and made it dangerous for the deputies to help her.

Despite lifesaving efforts, Hester died at the scene, according to Cal Fire.

The woman's son, Jason Hester, told NBC 7 that she was good mother and grandmother who always tried her best.

"She always cared about others the house was probably filled with Christmas presents for the grandkids and for us it’s just sad," Jason Hester said.

A neighbor, Alicia Storm, said she could hear the fire raging and the deputies  yelling as they tried desperately to get inside.

"'Come to the door, I need a sledgehammer, lets go let’s go.' They were just trying their best to get in," Storm said.

Three sheriff's deputies suffered smoke inhalation from the blaze and were hospitalized as a result. SDSO identified the officers as Tony Bernal, Gabriel Ross and Gregory Kurtz.

Hester's son said, "I have some family in law enforcement and just thinking about those guys, I’m sure they’re not sleeping well tonight. They did not want this to happen to her, I’m sure they wish they could have done more. I want to put their hearts at ease as well and thank them for their efforts also."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation but SDSO said its Bomb/Arson Unit does not believe the blaze was suspicious. The investigation is ongoing.

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