Firefighter heading to work rescues person from burning car on I-90 near Bellevue
BELLEVUE, Wash. - A man is recovering at a local hospital after an off-duty firefighter and bystanders helped pull the trapped man out of his burning truck.
WSP says four vehicles were involved in the crash Tuesday morning after a work truck failed to break in time slamming a GMC pickup into two cars.
The pickup was carrying acetylene tanks, a highly flammable compressed gas used for welding.
Eastside Fire Captain Thomas Tull was off duty and on his way to work when he came up on the fiery crash between East Mercer Way and Bellevue Way on I-90.
"I saw that we had a victim inside, it was second nature to run out and start to render aid," Tull said.
While Captain Tull doesn’t think of himself as a hero, he ran towards the fire with no gear and no mask.
He says he saw several bystanders worried and rushing to get the man who was trapped out as the pickup was already in flames.
He says one of the bystanders used a crowbar to break the window and help get him out.
"Thank goodness for his quick actions because, at that point, it was a matter of seconds he was on fire," Tull said.
Tull says he and three good Samaritans carried the 40-year-old man out, but the fire continued to grow and intensify.
He says they all helped pull him back further, and incoherently he says he warned them there was acetylene tanks in his truck.
"Shortly after we got him moved one of the acetylene tanks blew at that point," Tull said.
The man had burns on his arms, back and the back of his head, according to the firefighter.
Captain Tull ran for his first aid kit, started rendering aid, and calling 911 for more help.
A calling he says he’s been drawn to since he was young, 22 years later, today was no different.
"We take an oath that we're going to help people and we're going to render aid when we come across that exact situation," Tull said. "Whether or not it's on duty or off duty, firefighters we’re part of something bigger we just have that mentality, it's ingrained in our DNA."
WSP says at least two people were taken to the hospital.
Fortunately, Trooper Rick Johnson says this was just an accident – no one suffered life-threatening injuries and so far no one is facing criminal charges.