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Fargo Hardee's employee pulls unconscious man from burning car in parking lot

A lazy Sunday morning at a local fast-food restaurant turned into a life-or-death situation when an employee pulled a driver out of a car that had burst into flames.

Tim Koester, 33, who started working at the 3819 Main Ave. Hardee's a week ago, said someone came through the drive-thru about 4:15 a.m. and told him smoke was coming from a car in the parking lot.

Koester said he went outside and found a vehicle in flames and one person inside who appeared to be passed out from intoxication.

"I reached in and got the seat belt off, and then I noticed that the fire had spread to the front tires," Koester said. "I heard one of them go, but the guy was already out of the car. At that time, we were safe."

A fellow employee said he ran out after Koester and saw 4-foot flames shooting from the car.

"It's not like Hollywood," Koester said. "It doesn't go up and out 20 feet, but things did fly off the vehicle, and the gas tank did go."

Fargo police and firefighters arrived at the scene about 4:25 a.m. and put out the fire, said Lt. Joel Vettel. The man inside the car, Ryan Joseph Fox, 50, of Fargo, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, Vettel said.

The fire started in the trunk and was ruled unintentional, said Capt. Dane Carley of the fire department.

The vehicle, a 2006 Audi A8 L, was a total loss, Carley said.

The fire did not affect the restaurant building, an employee said Monday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518