Mike Coolidge was driving down County Road 5 in Nowthen, Minn., just before 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning when he saw smoke drifting across the street. As he drove closer, he could see a glow in the living room of a house, and realized the home was on fire.
Coolidge stopped, backed up, and ran to the door of the burning home. He smashed a window to get inside and he found Diane Evans unconscious near the door.
Other passersby stopped as Coolidge pulled Evans out of the house, yelling for witnesses to call 911 and the fire department.
Evans was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she is in critical condition and undergoing treatment for burns and smoke inhalation. A friend who visited her at the hospital said she suffering from burns on her arms and face and is being heavily sedated.
Coolidge was evaluated at Mercy Hospital after the rescue, and he spoke with FOX 9 News about why he broke his morning routine and risked his life for a stranger.
"She probably would have done the same thing for me," he said.
Looking back, Coolidge said he knew something wasn't right because of the glow inside the home.
"I wasn't sure if it was the living room or the kitchen, but in one of the rooms, there was a pretty good glow going on," he recalled.
He said he pounded on the windows after pulling up to the home, hoping to wake up anyone who was inside before breaking the glass after he saw Evans' feet.
"It happened so fast. I tried the window, I opened the door -- the door wouldn't open. Something was blocking the door to where I couldn't get it all the way open, but I could see her feet so I had to give it a good shoulder," Coolidge said.
Though Evans was unconscious when he pulled her from the burning home, he said she awoke as rescue crews arrived.
"I thought I was going to have some pretty bad dreams tonight when I went to sleep, but now at least I know that she's alive," he said. "I'll sleep pretty good tonight."
Coolidge also suffered smoke inhalation during the rescue, but he said he's quickly recovering.
Officials say the fire started in the living room on the first floor; however, they don't yet know what caused it.