By DAVID DUNHAM A 70-YEAR-OLD man was dramatically pulled away from his car after it smashed into a 1000-volt power box and burst into flames in central Tauranga this morning.
Workers from Ebbett Tauranga on Cameron Rd raced to help the driver who could not get out the front door of his Holden Berlina and was struggling to escape out the back door.
The man was driving out of town along Cameron Rd about 7.45am when he and the driver of a Ford Falcon XR6 collided.
The Holden careered towards Ray White Real Estate but crashed into a sign and came to a stop when it hit the transformer.
The front of the car burst into flames and the driver was unable to get out.
As he sat trapped, sparks began to fly from the power box so he scrambled into the back seat and was helped out by Stacey MacRae and Neville August from Ebbett Tauranga.
He was taken across the road to the reception area of Ebbett Tauranga where he was comforted until St John Ambulance staff arrived. The man was then taken by ambulance to hospital.
The Ford Falcon came to a stop about three metres to the right of the Holden but just a couple of metres from the front of Ray White's.
The female driver of the Ford managed to get out of the car by herself and was comforted by staff from Ebbett Tauranga. She did not go to hospital but was checked by ambulance staff.
Mr August said he ran to the crash scene after hearing an "horrendous sound".
"I was dreading that the man was going to be trapped and could not get out at all," he said.
But Mr August and his colleagues were not the only ones who rushed to help. Staff of Harmer Parr had ironically just started a meeting about fire drills in their office above Ray White's when they heard a noise of "crunching metal".
Lights then flickered and staff from other businesses in the building told them to get out because of a fire.
Stephen Parr, who was holding the fire drill meeting, raced down with a fire extinguisher and started to fight the blaze in the Holden.
But when sparks started to fly from the power box, which was crumpled underneath the engine, Mr Parr dashed to get a CO2 extinguisher.
He continued to attack the flames until firefighters from Tauranga Fire Station on Cameron Rd arrived.
"The car was sitting on a transformer so it was pretty scary," Mr Parr said.
Senior Station Officer Jeff Maunder of Tauranga Fire Service said the man might have died, if the electricity from the power box had gone through the car.
Mr Maunder said the man was lucky and praised those who came to his aid.
Both Ebbett Tauranga and the building occupied by Harmer Parr and Ray White lost power because of the crash.
A PowerCo spokeswoman said any disruption to power was minor and contractors were working to restore it.
Police say an investigation into the crash had started so had no comment.