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Dashcam shows West Allis firefighters saving man from burning car

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Newly released video shows West Allis firefighters save a man from a burning van.

West Allis firefighters rushed to the area of 56th and Lincoln for a car fire when they saw a man inside. A proud assistant fire chief says the man survived because of the heroic efforts of the firefighters. 

Firefighters used an ax to get the man out of the vehicle when the door handles didn't work.

"By the time they had that door open and that gentleman out, the entire cabin was engulfed," said Assistant Chief Kurt Zellman.

Several neighbors watched last month's fire from their homes as the vehicle burst into flames. Many were awoken at first by the sounds of the engine revving.


"We look out the window and we see sparks coming from the exhaust. Minutes later, we see the entire vehicle shoot up in flames," said witness Mark Fernhout.

West Allis Police say the 60-year-old was driving under the influence.

"When he passed out, his foot was on the accelerator. The engine was revving the entire time which is probably what generated the heat to start the fire," Zellman said.

"He must have been intoxicated because he did not move, he was very limp," said Fernhout.

The man saved wasn't injured in the fire. A neighbor that called police says she didn't see him in the car at first.

"We were really relieved that he was okay because we didn't know he was in there," said a neighbor.

The West Allis Fire Department is proud of the heroic efforts and their firefighters for putting their lives as risk every day to save others.

"Within a number of seconds, the windows would have failed and the fire would have gone in the cabin and with him unconscious it's pretty unlikely he would have been able to get out himself," said Zellman. 

The man saved was arrested and cited for OWI. It was his first offense. 

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