Melville fire chief saves man trapped in burning car

Posted: Updated:
WOODBURY -

An assistant fire chief from Melville says he saved a man who was trapped in a car Monday morning, just before it burst into flames.

Jason Bernfeld, 32, was driving westbound on the Northern State Parkway near Round Swamp Road shortly before 6:30 a.m. — heading to his job as a mounted NYPD officer — when he noticed a taillight in the woods.

Bernfeld pulled over and found a car turned onto its passenger side and leaning up against a tree. Only the 30-year-old driver was inside, hanging from his seatbelt, he says.

"I was inside the vehicle with him, and a fire did start underneath the driver's side dashboard," Bernfeld recalls.

He says he raced back to his car and grabbed a fire extinguisher and medical shears, sliced through the seatbelt and freed the driver right before the car burst into flames.

The victim was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where he was treated for burns to his legs and neck and back pain.

Bernfeld says he wound up being late to work, although he "had a decent excuse."

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