Five people hailed as heroes after rescuing man from burning car - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Five people hailed as heroes after rescuing man from burning car

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KENNEWICK, WA - The word "hero" can sometimes be overused. But in this case, it certainly does apply.

Massood Zarifi is one of five people who risked their lives to save an 81-year-old man trapped in a burning car last night.

Reporter Mackenzie Allen learned today that Zarifi doesn't really consider himself a hero.

Zarifi was driving by when he saw the grass fire started by a car crash, when the 81-year-old man became confused while driving and crashed. It wasn't until he got closer to the accident that he saw someone trapped inside and immediately jumped into action. He first tried to smash the car window with a rock - without any luck.

"I asked him, 'sir, can you please open the door,' 'I can't, I can't, I can't,' so I asked him again, 'sir, can you please open the door, please,'" Zarifi recalled. "The fire was on his side and then the fire was on my side on the passenger door, and I saw a truck pull over and I asked him, 'please can you grab a hammer,' and he grabbed a hammer and then I broke the window down."

Zarifi says by the time the fire department got on scene the car was already completely destroyed, meaning without his quick action and that of the four other people on hand to help, this story would likely have a very different outcome.

He also says he's hoping to see the driver again and make sure he's doing alright.


PASCO, WA - Five people are being hailed as heroes tonight, after pulling an 81-year-old man from his burning car. 

Pasco Police and Washington State Patrol were called to the scene of a single car crash on Highway 12 at around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening. They say the 81-year-old driver from Kennewick was driving east on E. Lewis Place when he became confused. That's when he crashed into the DOT fence along the highway. His car then got stuck in weeds, which caused a brush fire that spread to the car.

Several drivers on Highway 12 noticed the car on fire, and stopped to help. The driver of the car that was on fire was conscious, but was unable to unlock the doors or get out on his own. As the car fire grew, a team of people began to assemble at the crash sight. One of the drivers that stopped, grabbed a hammer from his car and, working together, they smashed open the window and opened the passenger door, freeing the driver. 

They were able to pull him across the street to safety, before the car became completely engulfed in flames. All of this took place before first responders arrived on scene.

Fortunately, the driver of the car wasn't injured, but was taken to Lourdes to be evaluated, while fire crews extinguished the car and brush fire. Police have not released the man's name yet, as they are still working to notify his family.