Boulder police officer rescues man from burning car

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On the night of Oct. 21, Boulder Police Officer Douglas Perhacs quickly realized the clock was ticking.

A car was on fire after crashing into a tree on Baseline Road near Flagstaff Road.

"I don't think you can brave unless you're afraid," he said. "I think in the moment I focus on the task at hand and the job and then being afraid and everything comes a little afterward."

He said he knew he was closest to the crash, making him the most likely to save a life that night. Within 45 seconds, he was there.

"When I first got to the scene I saw a car and the engine was on fire," Perhacs said. "It was about 1-2 foot flames coming out of the hood of the car. I don't think he was aware the car was on fire or what was going on, so I don't believe he would've been able to get out on his own based on his head injury and disoriented state."

Perhacs said the survivor of the crash was a man in his 20's. He said he had a medical condition that likely caused him to drive into the tree.

"I opened the driver side door and I saw the male sitting in the driver seat and he was a little disoriented. He was kind of bleeding from his mouth," said Perhacs. "There was smoke filling the cabin of the car so I grabbed him and pulled him out and tried to get him to a safe distance because my concern was with the engine being on fire, the car could explode."

Then, he dragged the driver down the road to safety.

"I turned around, the vehicle had become fully engulfed in flames about 4-5 feet high," said Perhacs.

Boulder Fire's timing was right on target, too, getting there a minute after Perhacs. Firefighters contained the flames and prevented a potential wildfire.

"I think as police officers the whole point of our job is to try and help people. So I'm just glad I was able to get there, and do my job and be able to help him," said Perhacs. "I don't really feel like a hero or anything like that. I did the job I was hired to do and that's the reason I'm a police officer."

The survivor of that crash was taken to the hospital and released the next day. Perhacs said he was lucky someone was home to see the crash happen and call 911.

This isn't the first time Officer Perhacs has rescued someone from flames. He said in January he pulled a disabled woman out of a homeless encampment that had caught fire.

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