'Heroic' pair pulled woman from burning car at Comox gas station

Pulled from burning car

Two people were “heroic” when they pulled a woman out of her burning car seconds before it was engulfed in flames on Saturday at a Comox gas station, says the community’s fire chief.

The woman had crashed into a gas pump at the Esso station on Anderton Road at about 7 p.m. Saturday. The car caught fire immediately, said Comox Fire Rescue Chief Gord Schreiner.

The woman appeared dazed and confused following the crash and didn’t look like she was going to get out of the vehicle on her own, Schreiner said.

A gas station attendant and a passerby pulled the woman out of her vehicle as the fire grew quickly, he said.

“I would think even like 30 seconds would have been enough that she wouldn’t have gotten out of there,” Schreiner said.

Because of safeguards in place at the gas station that prevent gasoline in storage from leaking, the only gas involved in the fire was from the pump and the hose of the pump that was hit by the vehicle, he said — about three or four litres.

That immediately ignited a fire on the hot exhaust of the car, and the vehicle ended up fully engulfed in flames.

It was six or seven feet from the front of the convenience store attached to the gas station, Schreiner said, and the flames got into the roof “very quickly.”

The structure, which also housed a restaurant, was destroyed, Schreiner said.

The vehicle was close to cylinders at a propane refilling station and the fire burned the dispenser hose off the cylinders, releasing propane to the fire, and accelerating the blaze.

“Gasoline was not a problem. The biggest problem there was the large amounts of propane in the 20-pound cylinders that were stored right near the gasoline islands where they refill your vehicle,” Schreiner said.

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