Off-duty firefighter rescues man from burning semi

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (Jan. 15, 2016)-- It was a call too close to home for an off-duty firefighter. Thursday evening, Paul Blanford heard a noise while he was a giving his kids a bath.

“It was pretty loud so I got up to look and see what it was and that’s when the whole front of the house was kind of orange looking,” said Paul Blanford, a Decatur Township firefighter.

A semi truck crashed right down the road from Blanford’s Johnson County home. Cell phone video captured the fire. The flames and smoke were too powerful to even make out what exactly was burning. Blanford ran right to it.

“As soon as I came around the corner I started yelling at him to get away from the truck and that’s when I realized he wasn’t all there because he was trying to go towards the truck. He was really close to it already,” said Blanford.

Blanford saw the man on the ground right next to the truck. He knew there wasn’t a lot of time.

“I just grabbed a hold of him and dragged him so he wouldn’t get burned up,” said Blanford.

Within minutes, firefighters arrived and took care of the fire while Blanford took off his coat.

“It was kind of cold out last night and I didn’t want him getting hypothermia, I just gave him my coat,” said Blanford.

Medics on scene told Blanford the driver had a diabetic issue and was in shock from the crash.

“He was a little coherent but I wouldn’t say he was 100 percent with it,” explains Blanford.

The off-duty firefighter isn’t sure of the driver’s name, where he was from or where he was heading.

“Well, I tried to talk to him but he was kind of disoriented, he couldn’t really communicate very well,” said Blanford.

Even though the words “thank you” were never part of the conversation, they didn’t need to be.

“If you can help people, you help them,” said Blanford.

FOX 59 is told the driver was taken to the hospital as a precaution. While Blanford didn’t feel like what he did was that big of deal, he admits his wife and three kids have given him plenty of praise.

Blanford has been with the Decatur Township Fire Department for nine years.