Junyi Liu was working behind the counter on what had been a quiet Saturday evening on the long weekend in Comox, when chaos suddenly erupted outside.
The co-owner of the Comox Esso saw that a car had driven into a gas pump outside, shearing it off and causing an instantaneous fire.
“I saw it first,” Liu told CHEK News. “At that moment there were only two things on my mind. First one is to save her. Another one is to try my best to put down the fire.”
Liu says he pushed all the emergency shut-off buttons inside before racing outside.
He can be seen on video, shot by a nearby resident, grabbing a fire extinguisher and then opening the passenger door before running around to the driver’s door and pulling the elderly driver to safety just mere centimetres from a gasoline-fed fire that was spewing up from where the fuel pump had just been.
“I was scared for sure but I wasn’t really thinking about it,” he added.
Liu wants to acknowledge another man, who is still unidentified but rushed in to help. Liu says he couldn’t remember that man being there until he saw the man in a white t-shirt later on video.
The woman in the car was a regular customer who Junyi recognized right away.
They moved her to a safe spot as the entire gas station lit up in flames.
Several attempts to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher were unsuccessful.
Following the fire, comments on social media included many people calling Liu a hero for what he did.
“People say you’re a hero for doing that, what do you think?” he was asked.
“I don’t know,” he answered humbly. “It’s just, I did what I could do at the moment.”
“That’s my cousin, that’s him, that’s the one that know,” said Xing Liu, Junyi’s cousin. “No, not surprised at all because there was no time for people to think what should to do, just reaction right?”
The business is insured but the Liu’s have no idea when they might see any money.
A separate Korean restaurant was also lost in the fire.
The Liu’s feel badly for their employees who are now out of work but are vowing to rebuild the business when they can.
Fire officials believe the woman hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes causing the car to hit the fuel pump.