Carrsville volunteer firefighter spots gas pump fire while off-duty, jumps into action

Posted at 2:13 PM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 17:37:12-05

WINDSOR, Va. - When chaos broke out at the Windsor Mart on Wednesday night, volunteer firefighter Aaron Echols was across the street at Dairy Queen getting his niece dinner before dance practice.

He wasn't working, until he saw a gas pump ignite and go up and in flames.

"I just acted on my instincts and used the training I've been given, to do what was needed for the community," Echols says.

According to the Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Office, the fire started after a car driven by 26-year-old Raydrin Smith attempted to flee from police.

The Sheriff's Office, with the help of the Windsor Police Department, was doing a drug investigation.

Smith crashed into the pump, then accelerated forward, hitting Windsor Police Officer C.J. Griffin with his car.

"Adrenaline was running through me it just took over I kind of blanked out and did what I had to do to knock it out," says Echols.

He threw on his gear and grabbed a fire extinguisher from a Windsor Police Officer, who had one in his car.

A manager at Windsor Mart, Devin Howell, says by the time he shut the pumps off and ordered everyone out of the store, Echols had gotten to the fire to extinguish it.

"Had he not had that fire extinguisher who knows what could have happened," says Echols. "It could have gotten bigger, it could have hit another pump."

The incident led to a pursuit down Windsor Boulevard, which ended at the Southern States parking lot, shortly after Smith and two passengers got out of the car and tried to run away on foot.

Officer Griffin was released from the hospital on Thursday to recover at home from several contusions. He told News 3 over the phone that he was heading back into the office Friday to talk with his Chief.

"It could have been way bigger than it was," says Echols. "I'm thankful that it wasn't, thankful everyone is OK."

Smith has been charged with two counts of felony Property Damage, one count of Felony Elude, and one count of Attempted Capital Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer.

The other two passengers in his car were released. The Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Office says charges are pending from the drug investigation.