Arlington firefighters help police during big rig chase

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A group of Arlington firefighters headed back in to help after a police chase involving an 18-wheeler came to a fiery. It happened not far from a crash they had just cleared.

The first responders were at the right place at the right time when they were there to help those running from the end of the fiery police chase.

The wrecked-out Honda Accord was the scene those firefighters had just cleared when they saw the fire on I-30 near Cooper Street in Arlington.

The firefighters onboard Engine 4 were having what they consider a very normal day when they found themselves just 300 feet from Arlington police with guns pointed at a big rig on fire.

“We made kind of a roundabout to go back to the station and realized there was a large column of smoke on the horizon,” explained Arlington Fire Rescue Lt. Justin Robinson. “My driver said, ‘I think that's right where we just came from.’”

Robinson and the rest of his crew had just cleared a single-car crash involving a silver Toyota early Friday afternoon when they found themselves back at I-30 and Cooper Street caught up in a much more serious situation.

“There was a tractor trailer that was on fire and a car underneath it that was on fire then we realized that things were not so… normal,” Robinson said. “We had police officers who were actually drawing their weapons. That’s when we made the decision to keep moving and get out of that hazard area.”

SKY 4 video shows just how close Engine 4 ended up near the big rig that had been sideswiping vehicles along I-30 during a police chase from Fort Worth into Arlington. But instead of retreating from the dangerous situation, the firefighters immediately put on their department-issued ballistics vests and got to work.

“It’s not every day that we’re working side by side with police officers with firearms drawn,” said AFR Acting Battalion Chief John Yovanovitch.

He says his men were the first ones to treat the driver of the burned out SUV that was struck by the semi, driven by Jose Olivas. Their next challenge was trying to move back curious onlookers who stood around them. Many of them were taking video on their cell phones.

Engine Four stayed until Olivas was in custody. Chief Yovanovitch says he’s amazed no one was killed.

“I was very surprised from reports of the speeds of the 18-wheeler and the fact that there was no regard for life,” he said. “I was very surprised and thankful that nobody else was seriously injured.”

Despite some early reports that the semi may have been stolen, Fort Worth police say they have no reason to believe that is the case.

The owner of the El Paso trucking company that the semi is registered to declined to comment.