AMAZING VIDEO: Maplewood cops rescue man from burning car

AMAZING VIDEO: Maplewood cops rescue man from burning car

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MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (KMSP) -

Dash cam video from a Maplewood police squad shows two officers arriving at the scene of a crash and car fire Friday night at the corner of Larpenteur Avenue and White Bear Avenue in St. Paul.

"From back a ways, I had seen a glow," recalled Maplewood Police Officer Clint Abel. "I thought there was some type of fire. I didn't know what it was."

Abel and Officer Jason Marino spoke exclusively with Fox 9 News about what it was like to come up upon the car, which was on it's side.

INTERVIEW: Officers recall freeing man, patting out fire with hands

"I started heading towards the vehicle and heard what appeared to be a male yelling for help inside," Abel said.

The video shows both officers run toward the burning car even though both feared it could blow at any time.

"I don't think he had much time -- maybe 30 seconds to a minute left," Abel estimated. "The fire kept getting bigger and hotter and hotter."

Everything happened so quickly, that Marino had to abandon his plan to grab a fire extinguisher.

"I actually popped the trunk. I was going to grab the fire extinguisher and looked at the car -- and we are going to get him out now. Fire extinguisher isn't going to do anything," Marino said.

Instead, he and Abel grabbed the man's arms through the driver's side window to pull him to safety."

PANTS ON FIRE

Although Abel and Marino were able to pull the man free, but his pants were still on fire.

"His pants were on fire and legs, so I thought about rolling him," Marino reflected. "I didn't think, really."

Using their gloved hands, the officers patted out the flames and pulled the semi-conscious man to safety. He was taken to Regions Hospital with extensive injuries to his face and burns over a major portion of his lower body.

HONORED WITH LIFE SAVING AWARD

At a future Maplewood City Council meeting, Officers Abel and Marino will be awarded the Life Saving Award "for their prompt actions taken with disregard for the their personal safety that resulted in the saving of the life of another person."

"We are extremely proud of the actions taken by Officers Abel and Marino," said Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell. "Had these officers not selflessly and heroically responded, the occupant of the vehicle would have certainly died."

Yet, when Fox 9 News spoke with the duo, neither said they would consider themselves a hero.

"Any other police officer would have done the same thing, and I think it was kind of an instinctual thing -- get out and help somebody," Abel said.

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