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Police officer honored for rescuing two from burning van

A Town of Hamburg police officer was honored Monday night by the Town Board for saving two men from a burning vehicle.

Officer John Bluman downplayed his actions, saying the fire wasn't that bad at the time.

"Another minute or so, it might have been a different story," he acknowledged.

Both men were asleep in the van in Brierwood Plaza at about 4 a.m. Sunday, when Bluman said he spotted the flames coming from the engine compartment from about 400 yards away.

He said he pounded on the windows of the locked van and roused the driver, who got out on his own.

The passenger, however, had been drinking and would not wake up, he said. After pounding so hard on the rear window that it broke, the man woke up, and Bluman dragged him from the van.

The men were not injured, but the van was destroyed.

Bluman speculated the engine overheated because the van was parked with the engine running for several hours while the unnamed men, who live on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, waited for a relative.

Bluman had first spoted the van at about 1 a.m., when he asked the driver to move it because it was blocking a bank entrance.

Bluman, a six-year veteran of the department, said he feels good about the rescue.

"But I can't imagine any person would have passed by and not gotten them out of the car," he said.

He even gave them a ride home.

Carmen Kesner, assistant chief of police, said it was characteristic of Bluman to downplay his role.

"That's the type of person he is. But he takes a lot of pride in his job," Kesner said.

The Town Board presented him a certificate citing his "courageous act."


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