ROSELLE PARK — Police had to forcibly remove a sleeping man from his car after it caught fire parked on a street on Saturday.

The car was parked along West Lincoln Street when a woman called police after hearing a strange noise that led to smoke pouring out of the windows, according to Roselle Park police. The officers found the engine and compartment completely engulfed in flames and had to break the car's tinted windows to see if anyone was inside.

Officers found a man slumped over the steering wheel. They had to drag him from the vehicle when he refused to get out.

An investigation determined the 42-year-old man, whose last known address was in Everett, Washington, had been sleeping in the car with the engine running. His foot stayed on the gas pedal for an extended period of time causing the engine to race, become overheated and catch fire. Police said he was taken to Trinitas Hospital.

Police Chief Paul W. Morrison praised the heroics of the officers and the observant neighbor for helping to save the man's life.

"The heroic efforts of all involved played an instrumental part in the positive outcome of this incident. There could have been a very different and possibly tragic ending to this incident if it had not been for the quick actions of Officer Robert Harms and the heroic act of Harms and Deputy Chief Thompson in risking personal injury to protect the life of another," Morrison said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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