Good Samaritan, officer rescue woman from lightning-sparked car - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Good Samaritan, officer rescue woman from lightning-sparked car fire

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She was trapped in her car in the middle of a thunderstorm with lightning all around. A bolt struck her vehicle and sparked a fire, but after a whole bunch of bad luck, the best kind of fortune arrived.

It was raining heavily when lightning struck the woman's car. Police say there was a bright flash, a loud bang, the engine died and all the electronics went out, trapping her inside. Then, it burst into flames.

When Officer Chris Burban ran to the burning car, he knew he only had seconds to get the woman out.

"'Got to get her out,'" he remembered. "That was my whole thought. 'Got to get her out.' No one is going to burn to death if I can help it."

Burban ran to the passenger-side door and broke out the glass, urging the woman to crawl out the window.

"There was a burning car -- any second, it could have gone kablam!" Michael Smith said.

At 18, Smith is pretty mature for his age. On the day of the car fire, he had closed on his new home and was going back and forth, bringing boxes to the house when he came upon the car fire. He can be seen running across the road to help Burban.

"In a case like that, the more hands, the better," Burban reflected. "I was very glad to see him."

Both knew they didn't have much time.

"The whole thing was going to go, I thought," Smith said. "Tried to get her out of there as quick as possible. I don't know how long she had."

The fire was raging on the hood, moving its way into the car.

"That was intense," Burban remembered. "It was pretty intense with that much fire coming out of it."'

Together, Smith and Burban pulled the woman from the vehicle and ran to safety.

"She was just screaming for help," Smith said. "She wasn't unconscious, just absolute panic mode."

Both have now seen the video of the dramatic rescue. In hindsight, both now realize just how dangerous it was.

"Pretty shocking to see what I actually did," Smith said. "When I was out there, I didn't realize what I was doing -- just trying to get her out. Now, I that look back and look at it, pretty shocking what I actually did -- lifted up this lady and pulled her out of the car, across the car."

Burban said that in his 10 years with the Lake Crystal Police Department, it was the most dangerous rescue he's ever been a part of -- but for Smith, it may be the first of more to come.

"According to him, he's in a law enforcement program," Burban said. "He can come back me up any day. He has what it takes."

From the moment the officer arrived to the time they got the woman free, 45 seconds passed -- but neither man considers himself a hero for braving the risks to save a life. Burban said he was just doing his job, and Smith said he believes anyone would have done what he did.

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