Published: Oct 27, 2011 7:30 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 27, 2011 10:28 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Unknown bystanders helped save the lives of three women trapped in a van that caught fire in a two-car accident at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Surfside Boulevard Thursday morning.

At 6:45 a.m., Cape Dispatch received a 911 call reporting an accident involving a vehicle on fire at Veterans and Surfside. Emergency crews responded within five minutes and found that a white van and smaller red sedan had collided at the intersection.

The white van was on fire, and debris was scattered throughout the accident area. Three injured female occupants in the burning van were unable to open their doors and exit the vehicle. Bystanders moved quickly to remove the rear window of the van, pull the three injured women from the vehicle and move them out of harm’s way to the side of street.

The bystanders stayed with the victims until Rescue 5 and Lee County EMS emergency crews arrived on scene.

Three EMS units transported five patients to Lee County Memorial Hospital. Four of the injured were transported as Priority 3, and the fifth patient was a Priority 2. Cape firefighters with Ladder 6 extinguished the fully involved vehicle fire by 6:57 a.m. and then assisted with the patients.

“The actions of these unknown bystanders may have saved the lives of the three women passengers in the burning van,” said Assistant Chief Tom Tomich, Cape Coral Fire Department. “We do not know their names but we do know they risked their lives without hesitation to help save the victims of this serious crash. We thank you.”