Canberra mum pulls children to safety from burning car

A Canberra mum has been labelled a hero after she pulled both of her children to safety from a burning car, seconds before it exploded.

Gordon resident Catherine Mayes was getting her two children, 20-month-old Tommy and five-month-old Hunter, out of the car at a nearby park to play just after 3pm on Friday before a portable battery pack caught fire in the front seat.

John Stasik and his partner Catherine Mayes, and their children Tommy 21-months, and Hunter 5-months-old. Photo: Jamila Toderas

John Stasik and his partner Catherine Mayes, and their children Tommy 21-months, and Hunter 5-months-old. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Ms Mayes said she heard a "fizz" coming from the front seat before the battery pack began to smoke, causing the car to then become engulfed in flames.

"I started to get Tommy out of the car and then the battery pack let out all this smoke and catch fire," Ms Mayes said.

"I ran around, put Tommy down, and all I thought about is 'the car is about explode and I have to get Hunter out'."

In dramatic footage captured on CCTV cameras from a nearby townhouse, the mother went back into the flaming car to pull Hunter to safety.

I don't feel like I've done anything great, but to me I did my job. I'm here to protect my kids and that's what I have to do.

Catherine Mayes

Ms Mayes told The Canberra Times the incident lasted for about five seconds, but it felt much longer.

"Hunter was in a rear-facing car seat, which was a little difficult to unbuckle, but I worked as fast as I can," she said.

"I pulled them away from the car as fast as possible and called the firies in hysterics.

"The car was starting to make big banging sounds and the windows started to smash, and we had to back right away."

The Gordon resident said when she first noticed the battery pack popping open, she called her partner but went through to voicemail, which captured the moment the car caught alight.

A screencap of the moment Canberra mother Catherine Mayes pulled her two children from her car before it burst into flames.

A screencap of the moment Canberra mother Catherine Mayes pulled her two children from her car before it burst into flames.

"We've got to get away bubba," Ms Mayes said on the voicemail.

Despite the mother's heroic actions, she said she did what any mother would do in the same situation.

"I don't feel like I've done anything great, but to me I did my job. I'm here to protect my kids and that's what I have to do," Ms Mayes said.

"When people say that I'm a hero, it was a scary situation, but I did what I think anyone would do.

"At the end of the day, I'm here to protect my baby."

Despite being seconds away from disaster, Ms Mayes said her children weren't fazed by the car fire.

A screencap of the moment Canberra mother Catherine Mayes pulled her two children from her car before it burst into flames.

A screencap of the moment Canberra mother Catherine Mayes pulled her two children from her car before it burst into flames.

"When we were pulled to safety, Tommy just wanted to play on the car. He just wanted to know what was happening," she said.

The battery pack that started the blaze comes with a warning for it not to be left in the sun, but said it shouldn't catch fire.

Ms Mayes said it was worrying that a common item in her family car could have led to the fire.

"We've had it in and out of the car when we need it," she said.

"It's pretty concerning."

Since footage of the rescue went viral over the weekend, Ms Mayes said it was nice to see large levels of support online praising her quick thinking, but she said anyone in the situation would have done the same.

"We're mothers, we just do what we have to do," she said.

"Things happen and we have to keep our children safe."