A HEROIC van driver helped a man from his burning car after it spun out of control and overturned near Southampton on Saturday January 25.

Andy Brown, a recovery vehicle operator from Wimborne, was driving behind the silver Peugeot on the M271 when he heard a loud popping sound and saw a flash of flames from underneath the vehicle.

The 34-year-old was forced to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the car, driven by 23-year-old Sam Stainton, as it spun and rolled across the southbound carriageway, ending up on its roof.

He said it seemed to happen in slow motion.

“The car started spinning across the road and I had to brake hard to avoid being involved myself, it was very frightening,” he said.

Quick-thinking Mr Brown activated the lights on his van to warn drivers behind, and on stopping near the wreckage he ran over with a fire extinguisher to douse the flames issuing from the car's underside.

“I didn't know what to do, I was worried the car might explode, but the adrenaline kicked in and I had to check if there were children in there,” he said.

“There was fuel pouring out everywhere, but he was climbing out, I was amazed.

“He was disorientated but I managed to drag him back to my van, and I went to check there was no one else before reversing to a safe distance.”

Mr Brown, who lives with his partner Angela Carlin and five children, looked after Mr Stainton until the emergency services arrived.

“I have had some experience of emergencies from working as an RNLI co-ordinator on Bournemouth beach, but that is the closest I have been to being involved in a crash,” he added.

Mr Stainton, from Hampshire, suffered only minor whiplash in the crash, thought to have been caused by a tyre blow-out. He said he was “lucky to be alive” and praised Mr Brown for fighting the fire.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said: "This was quick thinking by the member of the public who helped the man get out of his car and put the fire out. It could have easily been much worse.

“We’re keen to hear from anyone who witnessed the crash and would urge them to call the Totton Roads Policing Unit on 101."