“It was terrifying,” Mustang man injured trying to rescue girlfriend from burning home

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MUSTANG, Okla. – There is a small memorial in the front yard of 512 S. Castle Ridge Lane in Mustang.

It’s a tribute to Jill Vaught, 34, who lost her life in the house fire there.

The fire broke out around 12:45 Saturday morning.

“I heard her scream, ‘I think the house is on fire!’ I woke up. I couldn’t breathe. Oh God, it was terrifying,” said Duncan Brouwer.

Brouwer is Vaught’s boyfriend.

He was in a different room when the fire broke out and was able to dive out a window.

He then realized that Vaught had not made it out and ran back in through the front of the house.

“It felt like I was in an oven. I was a burnt piece of toast. I mean you couldn’t see this far in front of your face,” said Brouwer.

After several minutes inside, the flames and smoke drove him back out.

“I just couldn’t stand the pain any more and I had to leave. But making that split decision to leave right there, oh God, terrifying,” said Brouwer.

Mustang firefighters say the flames were too intense for them as well and they had to back out.

“Soon as we got about four or five feet in the door, we exited the structure and went defensive on it,” said Capt. Allen Sylvester with the Mustang Fire Department.

Capt. Sylvester showed us the helmet the first firefighter in was wearing.

Those helmets are built to withstand temperatures up to around 500 degrees and this helmet had begun to melt.

“Go defensive or go offensive. It’s basically a safety issue for us. And at that point, you don’t want to get anyone hurt so you have to make that decision,” said Capt. Sylvester.

Brouwer lost all his worldly possessions and his girlfriend, who was a long time teacher and was currently a teacher at Linwood Elementary in Oklahoma City.

“She was the sweetest lady you could think of. She loved animals. She loved being a teacher,” said Brouwer.

Brouwer suffered second degree burns over sixty percent of his back and injured his neck, shoulders and back when he dove out the window.

He says Vaught’s body was discovered in the hallway outside her bedroom.

“They said she had inhaled smoke and passed out long before the flames got to her. Still doesn’t make me feel any better about leaving her in the house,” said Brouwer.

The state Fire Marshal’s office says the cause of the fire is accidental, most likely electrical.

Click here to view the GoFundMe page Brouwer’s mother set up for him.

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