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This article was published 18/3/2015 (2446 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Police were in the right place at the right time for a Winnipeg man Tuesday night.
The right place was in the 600 block of Kenaston Boulevard near Grant Avenue, where a 65-year-old man crashed his car into a condominium building just before midnight. The car started on fire and the driver was unconscious behind the wheel.
Two Winnipeg police officers just happened to be driving by when they saw the flaming car. The officers rushed over and assisted in rescuing the man from the vehicle.
"The vehicle was fully engulfed in flames when officers approached," said police spokeswoman Det. Sergeant Natalie Aitken. "We’re certainly talking about less than minutes (officers) had to take this individual out. Probably seconds."
A 21-year-old man who was on scene before police arrived did attempt to save the man; he was unable to pull the man free by himself due to the extreme smoke and heat from the fire.
A woman who contacted the Free Press said her boyfriend was the individual who opened the car door, got the driver's foot off the accelerator, unfastened the driver's seatbelt and tried to pull him out of the smoke-filled car. Police were right there to help, she said.
"He was very courageous," said the woman, who, along with her boyfriend, didn't want to be identified. "He couldn't just stand there and watch."
Also driving by at the time was Rob Henn. He was heading to work when he saw a cloud of what he first identified as a dust from the excess sand on the road.
After watching a police cruiser speed towards the area, Henn quickly realized it was smoke and pulled into the Superstore parking lot to see what was happening at the adjacent condo complex.
"I saw the flames coming from the car, they were like 6-8 feet high," Henn said this morning. "I rolled down my window, I guess I was going to take a picture of something, when I heard someone yelling ‘We got to get him out of there!’"
Henn said he saw two individuals pull the unconscious man out of the driver’s seat and drag him to a safe location away from the burning car.
With the man in the car now safe, Henn became concerned about the growing fire taking hold of the condo complex.
"The flames were so high I thought for sure the building was going to burn," he said.
The accident was likely caused by a medical emergency, police say. Even though he avoided serious injury in the crash, the man was taken to hospital as a precaution.
He is expected to make a full recovery.
The building did see some fire damage, with the outer wall blackened above where the car smashed into it. Two large sheets of plywood now cover the damage.
Damage to the car and the building are estimated at $95,000.