AN off-duty ambulance hero has been nominated for a major national award after he dragged an injured man from a burning car moments before it exploded.

Ambulance technician Dafydd Dennis, an ex-Royal Marine, was driving home in the early hours of the morning after a 10-hour shift based in Barry when he came across debris from a road accident.

He stopped and saw that a car had gone off the road and down a bank near the bridge on the Barry to Dinas Powys road at 2am on April 21.

He said: "I saw the debris from a car and I stopped and spotted a glow on the right hand side, which turned out to be a vehicle on fire.

"I pulled my car over to warn other traffic and then I scrambled down to the overturned vehicle which was on fire and I saw there was someone inside.

"I called 999 and asked for fire, police and ambulance and then pulled open the door and dragged a man out.

"A couple of other people had arrived at the scene and they shone my torch down so I could see what I was doing.

"The car was right on the edge of the river bank and after I pulled the driver out through the window and up the bank he seemed to indicate there could be someone else in the car.

"I went back down and had to submerge myself in the river to check the passenger side but it was clear.

"It was lucky for him I was on that road because I’d forgotten that it was closed further on," he added.

"If I’d remembered I’d have gone home to Cardiff by a different route."

PC Russell Barnett, who attended the scene, said: "Despite the vehicle being ablaze and the obvious risks to himself, Dafydd climbed down the embankment and dragged the driver from the vehicle and up the embankment to safety.

"I arrived with the ambulance service a short time later and as we did so the vehicle exploded in a fireball, engulfing the car in flames.

"Having spent 15 years as a firefighter and seven as a police officer, I have been privileged to witness numerous acts of courage - however this incident stands out as one of the most exceptional acts of heroism that I have been witness to."

Now 27-year-old Dafydd’s name has been put forward for the prestigious ambulance services Institute Awards in the ambulance technician category.

The 27-year-old from Cardiff has already received a special bravery award from the Welsh Ambulance Service for his courageous conduct in the incident.

The ASI awards ceremony is traditionally held at the House of Commons later this year and he is among several Welsh Ambulance Service nominees in various categories.

Alun Harris, acting locality ambulance officer for the Vale of Glamorgan, said: "This was incredible bravery by someone who had just done a 10-hour shift - but, knowing Dafydd, it’s just what I would have expected from him.

"This was 2am on a dark morning on a deserted, unlit road and Dafydd actually went down to the car which could have exploded at any time not once, but twice."

Dafydd, of Lakeside, Cardiff, joined the Royal Marines at 16 and spent seven years with them, seeing service in Baghdad and Basra as well as Kosovo and the Caribbean.

He added: "I didn’t really think about it. I just realised that the car could go on fire at any moment and I had to get him out of there."