Four employees nearing the end of their shift at AWF Hardwood Flooring in Portsmouth, left their shifts as local heroes Friday afternoon.
According to Portsmouth Police, Ralph Felty, 67, apparently suffered some kind of medical condition, while driving his BMW near the plant. He apparently passed out, according to the report. At around the same time, his car caught fire and went up in flames as he hit a parked vehicle owned by one of the employees at the plant.
The four employees, one of which the parked vehicle belonged to, Dawnielle Bravo, who went to grap a fire extinguisher inside the building. As she retrieved the extinguisher, Blake Burchett and Aaron Cline discovered Felty was not responding and pulled him to safety. Another employee, George Walters, disconnected the battery to stop the electrical current, which helped put the fire out.
Clark Delabar, plant manager, said he is proud of his employees stepping up and doing the right thing. “They were on break, outside the plant and when they seen the fire they just jumped in and did what they had to do,” he said. “It’s great.”
Delabar said within the past couple of weeks, all supervisors and maintenance had just completed CPR training. He said he was glad the training was still fresh in their minds. While on the sight, Delabar thanked his employees several times during the interviews.
“We were loading some wood in Aaron’s car,” Burchett said, who works as a forklift operator. He said the car sounded as though it had some mechanical issues, because the driver seemed to be having trouble keeping it running. Then he said smoke started coming out. “Then it went up in flames.”
Burchett said when they approached the car, Felty was laid back in the seat not responding. ” We were worried the car was going to blow up,” he said. “I tried to wake him, but he was out.” Burchett said the car was in park at that time.
“I’m glad we were out there,” Burchett said. He said a few more minutes and the car would have burnt with Felty still inside.
Cline is the warehouse manager. “We heard a noise, seen smoke and it just happened,” he said. Cline said it was great teamwork that saved Felty and gave him a “second chance” in life. He and Bravo both said another man stepped in and helped as well. This man did not work at the plant and left without comment.
It’s a good thing we all got out there,” Walters said, “and he didn’t burn up.”
Reach Mark Richard at 740-353-3101