"And as the vehicle was coming southbound on Clovis Avenue here, you could see the smoke coming back, and the inside of the cab was actually on fire."
And so was the driver. EMT Herculano Tucay remembers it well.
"Well, the vehicle veered off and crashed through this sign here, across this vegetation, into this back wall, breaching the second window here."
Tucay was heading home, after an extremely long shift. He hadn't been there in a couple of days. But he was about to realize, his shift wasn't quite over. "The vehicle exploded while it was traveling."
August 1st, last year, 9:00 a.m. Herculano is headed north on Clovis avenue, just south of kings canyon. He was almost home. His fiance, Lilia, was missing him. "And I was calling to see why he wasn't home. It was taking him a little bit longer than usual. And he was on scene of the accident."
Tucay sees the flaming truck crash into the Sunnyville Apartment complex. He veers across the median, and rushes out to help the driver. He rolled him on the grass to put out the flames. There was a passenger, but he got out okay. Tucay called 9-1-1, and secured the scene until the on-duty EMT's arrived. Thankfully, Fresno Fire Station number 15 is just across the street.
"Whether we're on duty or off duty, we're expected to act. We have a moral obligation to do what we do."
Tucay is 5-foot-7, 160 pounds. He says the driver was at least 6-1, 220. Herculano says there was no shortage of Hercules jokes.
"I love my job. I've been doing it for 20 years now and I still get excited to go to work the night before."
That's right, 20 years.
In fact, he was one of the first responders in the December 1994 Lear Jet crash in Fresno on Olive Avenue. Herculano is trained for this. Saving lives is his job, and his fiance is proud. "He's my hero, yeah."
On duty, or off, he knows what he's doing, and this was a calculated attempt to save a life.
"Either way, it's my job. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time."
The Red Cross Real Heroes honor isn't all for Tucay. In May, he's headed to Washington D.C. to receive the prestigious 2012 American Ambulance Association's Star of Life Award, for his heroic deeds last August.