A retired firefighter-paramedic tried to rescue a driver from a burning van in Calistoga Wednesday night, but he was unable to save the driver in the end.
Bill Fairfield hopped through the van's front passenger door and started cutting the driver's seat belt, but the car blew up, injuring Fairfield's arm and forcing him to stop his rescue attempt.
The van caught fire after the driver crashed into a truck at the intersection of Tubbs Lane and Highway 128, the California Highway Patrol said. The driver of the van died, and another person was transported to a hospital with undisclosed injuries.
Fairfield said he was following the van over a hill, watching the driver swerve across the roadway. The driver sped away from Fairfield and later slammed into the truck. The van instantly burst into flames before blowing up, Fairfield said.
The CHP said it is too early in the investigation to know if drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.