Man hailed a life-saver for actions at crash

"Someone  had to do it, so I did it. I was just Johnny-on-the-spot with a fire extinguisher.''

Les Carty is being hailed a hero by Fire and Emergency New Zealand, after helping to extinguish a car fire in Dunedin with two people trapped inside.

But the pragmatic 54-year-old is refusing to be called a hero.

Dunedin man Les Carty is refusing to be called a hero after stopping two people from being...
Dunedin man Les Carty is refusing to be called a hero after stopping two people from being seriously burned in a car crash outside his house on Sunday night. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The Corstorphine Rd resident said he was listening to the radio about 8.55pm on Sunday, when he heard an "almighty bang'' outside and all the lights went out.

"We looked out and saw a car was impaled on the post.

"All I could see was a passenger in the car and flames were starting to come up.

"I threw on my work clothes, grabbed my fire extinguisher and ran down to the car.''

By that time, the flames had spread and there was smoke everywhere.

He said his only aim was to keep the fire away from the occupants of the car until emergency services arrived.

"The fire brigade turned up - thank God for that - so I left it to the experts.''

Mr Carty's wife, Leah, said the scene was chaotic.

She said the car was on fire, there were live power lines "sparking'' on the ground, and a policeman across the road was saying, "It's going to blow''.

She said the impact of the crash almost cut the car in half, and had pushed a female occupant into the back of the vehicle.

"She was screaming at us to get water to put the fire out. But we couldn't use water because of the power lines.

"She was also screaming at us to get her out, but we couldn't. It was impossible. She was wrapped in metal.''

Given the situation, she said her husband's actions were heroic.

Fenz East Otago assistant area commander Craig Geddes agreed.

"He understood the risk from the downed power lines and the leaking fuel, he applied the appropriate extinguisher, and his actions made the difference between whether that situation escalated beyond control or not.''

He said if Mr Carty had not intervened, the occupants of the car might have died in the fire.

"His actions made a significant difference. They were heroic.

"It was definitely a life-saving measure.''

A Dunedin Hospital spokeswoman said the female occupant remained in intensive care in a serious, but stable condition, and the male occupant was in a stable condition on a general ward.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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