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Strangers risk their lives to help a man trapped inside his vehicle on I-295

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Video caught on a cell phone shows Good Samaritans risking their lives to try and free victims trapped inside a burning car.

It happened during the early morning hours of May 14, after police say the driver lost control while traveling northbound on Interstate 295 in Hanover County.

After losing control, the driver reportedly drove off the road and struck a tree, causing the car to burst into flames.

Firefighters in Colonial Heights watched the video for the first time, amazed at the work of the ordinary people who rushed to the scene to help.

"You can see in the video there are several people that come up and were working really hard to try to get this lady or person out of the car, and they were definitely struggling," said Lt. Chris Pond with Colonial Heights Fire & EMS.

“It’s stuck! His leg is stuck,” someone yelled in the dramatic cell phone video. “Pull as hard as you can.”

As the flames leaped higher into the air, the Good Samaritans were finally successful in pulling the person from the burning car.

"From the video I saw, they never gave up," said Battalion Chief Wayne Hoover, a 29-year veteran.

Chief Hoover says in 2018 he still see's people willing to help.

"There are people that will still get their hands dirty and get in there and help someone in need," he said.

"I thought it was a heroic effort by those individuals," added Deputy Chief David Salot with Colonial Heights Fire & EMS.

While no Good Samaritan was injured during the rescue, in some cases people aren’t so lucky.

"I would never criticize somebody for trying to help their fellow man like that,” said Salot.

But with great risk, comes great danger.

Deputy Chief David Salot

"In this situation, there were risks of the chemicals that were coming from the fire, there's smoke and toxic gases that come from that, a vehicle burning like that, the air bags can deploy explosively inside the car," said Salot.

Even tires can explode unexpectedly when a car is burning.

But in the end, most times people will lend a hand.

"Everybody always wants to talk about the bad in the world, but I'll tell you… there's a lot of great people out there who help me do my job every day," added Chief Hoover.