By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Overnight plowing was just underway in Crystal when, at about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday, a snow emergency took on a new meaning.

A veteran Crystal public works plow operator was on his fourth trip around the block. That’s when he noticed what appeared to be flames in a basement window.

“About that time the window actually exploded, and he saw fire extending up and out of the house,” Mark Ray, director of public works, said.

The plow operator radioed his supervisor, who called 911. The driver then went to the front of the home, where he was met by the lone female resident.

“Upon getting to the front door he observed a resident, the lone female resident leaving the house. He helped her out and got her into a warm spot,” Deputy Police Chief Brian Hubbard said.

West Metro Fire crews, along with firefighters from Brooklyn Park and Golden Valley, responded to the scene. Though the home was heavily damaged by smoke and fire, the 60-year-old resident escaped without serious injury. Police say she was transported to an area hospital with an unspecified medical issue.

Meantime, the plow driver who called in the fire went back to clearing streets. Ray says the driver doesn’t want the accolades, and he only identifies him as a “veteran city employee” who is humble and compassionate.

“He does not want the attention [laughs]!” Ray said. “I’m extremely proud of our employee. He’s definitely reflective of the compassion we have for our residents here in the city of Crystal.”

Call it service with a smile, and at times, a saving grace.

Bill Hudson

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