FARMINGTON — When Javier Segovia witnessed a car fire earlier this month, he grabbed the fire extinguisher mounted to the cab of his garbage truck and ran to the flames.
"They were really big, bigger than I thought," he said of the flames snapping from the engine of the Alfa Romeo Spider sports car.
The Farmington Fire Department on Friday recognized Segovia for acting quickly and quashing the fire.
On the afternoon of March 14, Segovia, a Waste Management truck driver, was leaving the parking lot of Clancy's Pub at the corner of Hutton Avenue and East 20th Street when he saw a sports car pull in, smoke billowing from its hood.
The driver parked, stepped out and popped the hood, Segovia recalled. The driver was stunned as he watched the flames, and that's when Segovia said he stepped in and, in seconds, extinguished the fire.
"I just wanted to help that guy," he said.
On Friday, outside Waste Management's local headquarters, Jimmie Crawford, the Farmington Fire Department's Ladder Company No. 2 acting captain, read a speech thanking Segovia for his actions.
"Ladder (No.) 2 arrived to find the problem had been solved," he read. "We were unable to identify or thank the Waste Management driver as he returned to his job right away and left the area."
He said a gas line caused the fire, and car fires burn fast. If the car's driver waited another minute for the fire truck, the car would have been destroyed, he said.
He finished his speech and handed Segovia a wooden plaque.
"Now in the fire department we hug, buddy," Crawford said, pulling Segovia into a hug.
TV shows have exaggerated car fires, Crawford said after the event. Most people expect smoking or flaming cars to explode, so civilian assistance is uncommon, he said.
Three 911 calls were placed — the first at 3:15 p.m. — but Segovia and the driver were the first to respond, Crawford said.
"Judging by what was burned, he acted very quickly," Crawford said of Segovia.
The classic sports car looked as if it had spent its entire life in a garage, Crawford said. The driver was so flustered Crawford did not ask for his name.
Segovia has been driving for Waste Management for a decade. As an employee of the large company, he's trained to use fire extinguisher. Once a customer knocked hot ashes into his cab, and he quickly extinguished that fire. But he's never before had to put out a car fire.
"I really didn't expect this thing," he said of the recognition. "I just wanted to help somebody in need."