A HEROIC motorist who risked his own life and saved others by driving his burning car out of a petrol station has spoken of his actions.
Martyn Lawrence, 21, was filling up his silver BMW 318 at the Tesco petrol station in Daniels Lane, St Austell, when his car caught fire.
"I thought it was the smell of the exhaust from the car in front but then I saw all this smoke and realised something was wrong," said Mr Lawrence, from Trewoon, who works part-time at a Chinese takeaway.
"I thought, 'I've got to get the car moved as soon as possible' because I didn't want to be responsible for an explosion – there were about eight other people on the forecourt and I didn't want their lives on my conscience."
He bravely got back into the smoke-logged car and drove it away from the pumps until the smoke was so thick he had to stop and get out.
"Someone pulled up, opened their window and said there was definitely a fire in the car," he said.
"I thought it was just my motor burning out, but I got out and in less than a minute it went up in flames.
"I could have been inside."
Staff rushed out with fire extinguishers but Mr Lawrence's treasured vehicle was a write-off.
Mr Lawrence said he was given a courtesy car by the insurance company but had since had to give it back and is without a car while he searches for a new one.
He said he later found out the fire, on February 13, was caused by an electrical fault.
"I was amazed how quickly it happened, and it was just so out of the blue," he said.
"It's lucky the fuel tank was fairly empty; if it had ignited the fuel it would have been a lot worse."
A Tesco spokeswoman said: "We're grateful for the quick thinking of our customer, and proud of the speedy actions of our colleagues.
"After evacuating the forecourt and calling the fire service, colleagues used fire extinguishers to put out the fire. We're relieved that nobody was hurt and pleased that this was dealt with so calmly."
After the incident, firefighters also praised the heroic actions of Mr Lawrence and the efficiency of the forecourt staff.
Do you know a heroic individual who you think deserves a mention? Contact the Cornish Guardian on 01726 871098 or firstname.lastname@example.org