ORINDA (BCN) — Passing motorists who stopped to help a driver who had crashed into a tree and become trapped in her burning car in Orinda Wednesday afternoon put out the fire and likely saved the victim’s life, a spokesman for the Moraga-Orinda Fire District said.

The crash happened at 12:30 p.m. on eastbound state Highway 24 near the Orinda off-ramp, Fire Marshal Michael Mentink said.

Four drivers stopped to help and, while they were waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, they used fire extinguishers from their vehicles to put out a fire that had started in the engine compartment of the victim’s car, Mentink said.

They also tried to free the driver, who was trapped in the driver’s seat, but failed.

When firefighters arrived, they used the Jaws of Life to cut her out of the car, Mentink said.

Since the fire had already been extinguished, rescuers were able to immediately tend to the victim and work to free her, Mentink said.

“The driver could have been severely burned if these (good) Samaritans had not stopped and rendered aid,” Battalion Chief Darrell Lee said.

Mentink said that the fire district would like to thank all the people who stopped to help and that rescuers believe the motorists’ actions saved the driver’s life.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)


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