Update, 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, more on the Good Samaritan story, 5:50 p.m. Tuesday, comments from Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard.
A large, four-door sedan "exploded" in flames on Olympic Boulevard Tuesday morning, in the words of Patch reader Danny Milks.
The report from ConFire indicated a man involved in the incident talking about "chest pains," said Lewis Broschard, fire marshal for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.
Another Patch reader told a story about a good Samaritan woman pulling the elderly driver from the burning car.
Joseph Sturdivant of San Francisco said he had been headed to the dry cleaners on Newell Avenue. But the traffic was too thick shortly after the shooting investigation had blocked southbound I-680, dumping many vehicles into downtown Walnut Creek. Discouraged by the traffic, Sturdivant turned around to head back toward Lafayette — west — on Olympic, when he saw the car on fire, pointed in the other direction.
He said there was gas on the ground under the car and it was clear "the car would soon be in total flames. There were several of us ready to assist but the young lady (in her twenties, he thought) had already solved the immediate problem, which was getting the man safely out of the car. Smoke was starting to fill up the car when the Good Samaritan banged on the driver side window to get the elderly man out. He was confused but apparently followed the young lady's instructions. After he opened the door, she assisted him in getting his seatblet off and then held him as she helped or pulled him out of the car."
Sturdivant said, "She was a hero in my mind."
The accident was reported to ConFire at 10:20 a.m. Tuesday on Olympic Boulevard just east of Alpine Road, near CVS. Firefighters arrived in two or three minutes and found no one inside the car, Broschard said. It took eight to 10 minutes to control the fire.
The cause of the fire is unknown, Broschard said.
One lane of traffic was closed, said Milks, with downtown traffic already snarled by a California Highway Patrol shooting incident earlier in the morning on Interstate 680 in Alamo.
Thanks to Jim Boucher and Danny Milks for sending in their dramatic photos from the scene.