An off-duty firefighter, who rescued a lorry driver from his cab seconds before it was engulfed by flames, has paid tribute to the members of public who helped him intervene.
District commander for Wakefield Tim Jones, was driving along the A1 South Bound near Knottingley last Thursday evening, when the incident unfolded in front of him.
Mr Jones rushed to help carry the man down from the cab, as fire tore through the lorry’s trailer.
But he said he could not have done it without the heroic efforts of passers-by to help open the door.
He said: “There was several members of the public that stopped and helped, and if they hadn’t have intervened, I don’t know what would have happened.
“A GP stopped during the whole incident and three members of the public all helped to open the door to the lorry cab.
“They managed to get the door open so that I could get into the cab and carry the guy down and away from the lorry.
“The GP stopped and gave treatment. They were all absolutely fantastic. It was a real team effort.
“I was off-duty but I was just doing my job. It was them who went above and beyond. They deserve recognition.”
Watch Commander David Smith at Castleford Fire Station said he understood the HGV driver, aged 52, had suffered a medical episode and lost control of the vehicle.
He said the lorry swerved across all three lanes of the carriageway but avoided colliding with any other traffic.
It eventually came to rest on the hard shoulder, but its fuel tank ruptured and a blaze broke out, first affecting its trailer, which was carrying compressed paper and cardboard.
Watch Commander Smith said: “Tim turned his blue lights on and some people ran up and told him the driver was trapped and unconscious.
“He broke the window of the cab and pulled the driver out.
“We were en-route and the vehicle was 100 per cent alight when we arrived.
“Tim certainly prevented the man from having burns and his actions potentially helped to save this guy’s life.”
Fire crews from Pontefract, Castleford and Normanton were called to the scene of the incident, between junction 40 and 41, at around 5.30pm.
Both carriageways were closed off for some time.
The man was taken to hospital.