A motorist from La Puente was seriously burned Monday when his sedan caught fire on the 15 Freeway in Temecula, leading to a brush fire adjacent to the freeway that was quickly contained.
The car fire was reported about 2:30 p.m. on the southbound 15, just north of Winchester Road (Highway 79), according to the California Highway Patrol.
The agency said the 2007 Toyota Camry went off of the freeway and down an embankment, where it erupted in flames.
The driver, identified only as a 32-year-old man, was exposed to the fire for an unknown duration before getting a safe distance away, suffering burns to his hands, arms and other parts of the upper body, according to reports from the scene.
An off-duty paramedic stopped on the freeway and ran to the man’s aid, determining that he had burns to nearly 40% of his body, according to the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department.
Crews from the county and the nearby city of Murrieta reached the location within a few minutes and discovered that the car fire had extended to bushes and trees adjacent to the freeway, officials said.
Firefighters got the blaze under control by 3 p.m.
All southbound lanes on the 15 were shut down just after 3 p.m. to provide a temporary landing zone for a Mercy Air helicopter to set down and retrieve the victim.
The man was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton for treatment.
City News Service and The Press-Enterprise contributed to this story.