Tanker Driver Hailed As Hero
Chris Pugliese said his training kicked in when he quickly put out a fire in the engine compartment of the tanker truck he had just parked under the fuel-laden wing of a Boeing 767. Now officials at Orlando Sanford International Airport are saying he may have saved hundreds of lives. "He averted a horrible catastrophe," Diane Crews, vice president of airport operations, told the Orlando Sentinel. "Christopher is absolutely a hero to the airport and to all those passengers adjacent to the area." Pugliese, 26, who's only worked as a fuel-truck driver for four months, said it didn't occur to him to run when he saw flames coming out of the truck, which held 10,000 gallons of Jet-A. "They train us how to put out fires," he said. "If I started running it would have been a mess." The 767 already had more than 10,000 gallons aboard from Pugliese's first trip to the aircraft and it was parked beside two charter aircraft already loaded with a combined total of up to 600 passengers. As he parked under the 767, the engine stalled and he saw the flames. He grabbed the fire extinguisher and put the fire out, creating a huge cloud of flame retardant and smoke that really got people's attention in the area. The loaded planes were quickly moved away from the truck in case the fire restarted. Cause hasn't been determined.