Two men driving by rescued the woman after the crash occurred on Route 347 near Veterans Memorial Highway in Smithtown.
Commack firefighter Matthew Monahan and Joseph Moscato of Centereach spotted the crash and fire, and stopped to help as they arrived at the scene from opposite directions, authorities say.
Monahan was able to open the driver's door and reach the woman as Moscato used his fire extinguisher to hold back the flames. "I just pulled the pin and prayed to God it worked," said Moscato.
Just as the fire was spreading into the passenger compartment, Monahan and Moscato pulled her safely from the vehicle, which was totally engulfed in flames within 30 seconds, and saved her life.
The woman, 20-year old Alyssa Fox, is recovering from a fractured neck, spine, and various broken bones at Stonybrook Hospital.
But she's not far from one her heroes. Just downstairs working in the ER is Monahan. "I have to say he was my guardian angel," said Fox.
He's a permanent part of my family now as far as I'm concerned, because without him she wouldn't be here," said her father Scott.
"People talk about rewards and things like that. My reward is to look her in her face and see her smile at the end of the day, that's my reward," said Monahan.
Fox says she knows she's alive because of the two men, although there was a point she says when she told Monahan she didn't think she was going to make it.
"There was a moment when I said to him I'm going to die tonight. I'm not going to make it out. I'm going to die in here. He said I'm not leaving you behind. I'm getting you out of here," said Fox.
Monahan, 25, has been a volunteer firefighter with the Commack Fire Department for the last eight years, and is a Nursing Assistant at the Stony Brook University Medical Center Emergency Department.
Moscato is a former member of both the Centereach and Babylon fire departments, volunteering 15 years with each department and was an EMT for 25 years. He is an engineer for the Long Island Rail Road.
The Smithtown Fire Department responded to extinguish the fire and transported the woman to the hospital.