ANDALUSIA, AL (WSFA) - A south Alabama woman will never forget an Andalusia police officer who not only risked his life but did something he wasn't trained to do. For a few minutes, it was high drama that started and ended in a parking lot in Andalusia.
Andalusia police officer Nathan Pugh heard the call about a vehicle fire in the Walmart parking lot.
"At the time something happens like that, you don't think. You just act," Officer Pugh explained.
Pugh raced to the scene because he was only a minute away. As he got closer another call crackled on the radio that the fire had gotten bigger.
"That's when I picked it up another notch," Pugh recalled.
On fire was an old Jeep, owned by Rebecca Mathews, a national freelance columnist who goes by the name R.A. Mathews.
"I smelled gasoline and I didn't know what to do," Mathews said.
Pugh could see the smoke from a distance and stopped at the nearby gas station, grabbed the fire extinguisher, then rushed to the scene some 50 yards away.
"I pulled the pin and you could see the flames from under the hood," he recalled.
Even though there was no one trapped inside, the potential danger was great. There could've been a massive explosion with so many cars nearby.
"Not only that, but someone not paying attention, someone drive by there could have been an explosion and something did happen," said Pugh.
Mathews still isn't quite clear why her beloved Jeep caught on fire. It was a gift given to her by her dad many years ago before he died in 2002. It held a deep, sentimental attachment. Now it's gone, a total loss.
"It's much harder than you realize because my father bought that as the family car," she remembered.
R.A. Mathews is also a published author who recently wrote "Reaching To God: Great Truths from the Bible." Mathews credits God for removing her from what could have been a tragic situation. In addition to being an author, R.A. Mathews is an attorney and minister.
"I want to shine the light on the department and all the law enforcement officer who put a uniform and come to work every day and risk their lives," said Pugh.
R.A. Mathews wrote a column about it, a story to remember, a story of courage.
Officer Pugh is very quick to give credit to Andalusia firefighters who arrived about the same time he did. They focused on spraying the fuel tank while Pugh extinguished the blaze under the hood.