Thomas R. Nielsen helped to save Irmagene S. Lambert from burning, Louisville, Kentucky, January 6, 2012. Lambert, 70, remained in the driver’s seat of her car after an accident at night in which the vehicle left the highway, entered the grassy median, and struck a cable barrier. The car came to rest against the barrier, its engine running, and fire soon broke out in the engine compartment and spread beneath the vehicle. Motorists, including Nielsen, 43, groundskeeper, stopped at the scene. With the car’s doors locked, Nielsen pummeled the driver’s window and yelled to Lambert to open the door, but she did not respond. Another motorist who had responded pulled one of the barrier’s posts from the ground, and with it the men broke out the window of the car’s front passenger door and opened the door. Nielsen then crawled onto the front passenger seat and, with the other man’s help, attempted to pull Lambert from the driver’s seat. With difficulty, they moved Lambert closer to the passenger side of the car, but flames spreading from beneath the vehicle caused them to withdraw. After Nielsen used two fire extinguishers against the flames, reducing them somewhat, he and the other man re-entered the vehicle and resumed their efforts in behalf of Lambert despite deteriorating conditions inside the car. They pulled on Lambert until she was free of the vehicle and then with others carried her away from it. Within moments flames entered the car’s interior. Neither Lambert nor Nielsen was injured.
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