Atlanta firefighter pulls 2 from burning car

It’s not unusual for 33-year-old Karen Nowakowski to save people from fires. She’s worked as an Atlanta firefighter for five years.

Friday morning around 11, Nowakowski was on her way to the store, hours before her shift was to start. When the Winder woman drove up on a three-vehicle accident, she knew she had to stop.

One of the cars caught fire, and Nowakowski knew she had to help the driver and passenger out. She pulled both men out the driver’s side.

“It was like another day at work,” Nowakowski said Friday night. “I’m not a hero. It was just a fluke thing.”

The Barrow County emergency responders were familiar faces to Nowakowski, a mother of a 12-year-old son. She’s married to Lt. Rob Nowakowski of the Barrow fire department.

“She told me what had happened, and we both went on about our day,” Rob Nowakowski said.

But word travels fast when you save people’s lives.

At 7 p.m. Friday when Karen Nowakowski showed up for work at the Edgewood Avenue Station, she retold the story to co-workers and reporters. Her shift doesn’t end until Sunday at 7 a.m.

“We had no idea it happened today,” said firefighter Derek Harris. Harris said he talked to Karen Nowakowski earlier Friday about some of the station supplies she had been heading to the store to get. “She’s a great firefighter.”

Though Nowakowski downplayed her heroic efforts Friday night, she’s no stranger to attention.

She’s featured on page 10 of the current issue of “First” magazine.