Caught on camera: San Jose police officers rescue man from burning van before it explodes

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Police were called to a parking lot in San Jose last week for a man inside a van that caught fire. The man appeared to be living in his vehicle and refusing to leave. Witness video captured how quickly the situation escalated on July 9.

"It happened so quick. That van started burning up so quick that we just went and did what we had to do at the time," said Officer Chris Perilli with the San Jose Police Department.

"It was less than 60 seconds because we saw smoke and by the time we were processing that, it was a rescue," added Officer Tim Wright.

SJPD posted the images on Facebook, captured from Wright's bodycam.

"Our perception was, he was having some kind of mental health crisis and clearly was not thinking about his own safety," said Wright.

The officers said the man was grabbing the tire when they tried to pull him out, even as small explosions where going off inside his van. That's when officers had to tase the man. Shortly after the rescue, the van exploded and the tree next to it caught fire.

"We're going to have to tase him to let go and that was the only thing that got him to let go of that van."

The man was taken to hospital for assessment but no injuries.

San Jose Police Department posted the images on Facebook to praise the officers for their actions.

"We just want the community to know that we're here for everybody, unhoused, people with mental health issues, the rest of the community," said Pirelli.
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