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Drivers Burned in Speedway Crash

August 14, 2000 GMT

SPANAWAY, Wash. (AP) _ Horrified fans looked on as a race driver rolled and staggered away from a fiery four-car crash, his body fully engulfed in flames, before a photographer at Spanaway Speedway came to his aid with a fire extinguisher.

``The full face helmet and the shield melted into his face, and I could see his eyes inside the fire. He was yelling `Please save my life, save my life,‴ photographer Jon Bodwell told KOMO-TV after the collision late Saturday night at the suburban Tacoma short track where local drivers raced late model cars.

Bodwell was first to reach the most seriously burned driver, identified as Mike Easley, and was able to put out the flames with the extinguisher.

Another driver, identified as Ken Longley, was burned on his head, face and torso.

Both were flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, said Bill Thompson, spokesman for Central Pierce Fire and Rescue.

Easley remained in critical condition at Harborview on Sunday evening. Longley was in serious condition, a nursing supervisor said. Neither ages nor hometowns were available for either man.

The crash occurred on the second lap of what was to have been a 150-lap race.

In home video shown on KOMO, fans could be heard shouting for track crews to douse the flames, which shot up at least 30 feet from the wreckage after a fuel cell caught fire. Some in the crowd tried to help by tossing down bottles of water and ice chests, witnesses said.

The flames were extinguished in about three minutes.

The Pierce County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the accident.