By WARREN CORNWALL
EVERETT — A man rescued a 57-year-old driver from a crashed pickup as it caught on fire in a parking garage beneath an Everett medical clinic Thursday morning.
The fire forced dozens of patients and staff to evacuate the Group Health Cooperative Everett Medical Center. The truck’s driver was taken to Providence Everett Medical Center’s Colby Campus and was in satisfactory condition Thursday afternoon.
The fire broke out after the man suffered some kind of medical problem, drove the truck into a parking garage wall, and kept his foot on the gas pedal, said Warren Burns, assistant chief and fire marshal for the Everett Fire Department.
"He was spinning the tires until it caught fire," Burns said.
The rescuer, a man in his 20s, had to try three times to pull the driver from the car, emerging each time to get a breath before fighting through the smoke to reach the car, Burns said. He eventually succeeded and ushered the man upstairs to the medical clinic.
Burns said the rescuer wished to remain anonymous and declined to release his name.
"It was pretty damn heroic," Burns said.
"We don’t know who he is, but he certainly deserves our thanks," said Don Glickstein, a Group Health spokesman.
Hospital officials were still uncertain what medical condition led to the crash. The older man also suffered some minor smoke inhalation, hospital spokeswoman Cheri Russum said.
Though the blaze was extinguished shortly after being reported at 10:39 a.m., Group Health officials closed the five-story medical office for the day. The building will be open to patients today, Glickstein said.
Tom Bond, 44, and his 81-year-old father-in-law, Orville Hostetter, said they walked within yards of the flaming, abandoned car after parking on a lower level in the parking lot.
"I was afraid it was going to explode right then and there," Bond said.
The two tried to get into the elevator to escape the fire, but it was shut down, he said. They returned to their Cadillac and drove out of the garage, Bond said as he stood in the parking lot outside the building and watched firefighters put away their equipment.