A Lakeport woman may owe her life to Lake County's chief prosecutor after he found her passed out in her car on the side of the road and dragged her to safety moments before the car burst into flames early Sunday, the CHP said.
District Attorney Don Anderson said the trunk and rear tire of the Honda Accord already were ablaze when he found the woman, later identified as Jillian Whitney, 33, slumped over the wheel shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday.
She apparently was inebriated, and was incoherent and uncooperative as Anderson tried to drag her free, he said. But he succeeded, moments before the interior ignited.
Police later arrested Whitney for suspected drunken driving, and her car was a complete loss, the CHP said.
It was unclear what started the fire, however.
Anderson said he came across the car off the road on Highway 175 near Dixon Drive south of Lakeport on his way to his own house after picking his granddaughter up from a field trip and driving her home.
He passed the car without thinking much of it, but then realized he smelled something like burning rubber, and turned around.
He then saw the flames toward the rear of the car, opened the door to find Whitney inside, and dragged her back to his own vehicle.
Anderson said he had heard there were indications the driver had flattened some tires and had been driving on the rims.
He said she did not appear to have been deliberately parked but more likely drifted off the road into some brush or grass.