Loretta Pickett was sound asleep early Monday morning about 1:30 in her Monterey Street home when she heard a loud rap on her bedroom window. The next thing Pickett, 58, knew, the window shattered and someone was yelling, “Get out! Get out!”
Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Manuel Lopez had broken the bedroom window with his baton after a neighbor, fearing the disabled woman was inside and too helpless to escape, alerted him, recalled Deputy Karena Delagarza, who assisted in the rescue.
Thick smoke filled the back of the house.
Pickett, startled awake, managed to walk to the broken window where she was pulled out, head first, by deputies Lopez, Delagarza and Diego Davalos, who had arrived moments earlier.
The officers then helped Pickett get over the chain-link fence along her driveway and into a neighbor’s yard, Delagarza said.
Deputies had gone to the scene after hearing about the fire on their scanners; they were only two blocks away.
“We got there and the front of the house was completely burning,” Delagarza said. “We tried to see if someone was inside.”
That’s when the neighbor told them Pickett could still be inside.
Wednesday, over a shrimp basket and chocolate milkshake at the nearby Pop’s Drive-In, Pickett remembered that she wasn’t worried so much about herself; she uses a walker, has a pacemaker and a seizure disorder but suffered only minor injuries. She was worried about “my boys.”
By "boys," Pickett means her two chihuahuas, Tiger and Scooter. She also often watched her landlord's pitbull, Baby Girl, that was in the house at the time. She loves them like her own children, she said.
All were rescued.
Pickett's roommate, Alice Field, 55, wasn't home at the time of the fire, but like Pickett, she lost most of her belongings, too. Both women are unemployed.
The American Red Cross of Kern County paid for both Pickett and Rankin to spend nights at a hotel.
Wednesday, though, Fred Twyman, landlord of the house at 2706 Monterey St. where the ladies lived, helped Pickett find a one-bedroom apartment on Kentucky Street for a new home.
Inside, pink and blue sheets served as curtains and the two dogs sat on her lap. Wet clothes salvaged from the fire lay on the floor. Most, Pickett said, will probably have to be thrown away.
Kern County Fire spokesman Brett Grassi said the cause of the fire is still being investigated and it hadn't been determined if was accidental or intentional.