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From The New York Times

Shortly before 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, the vendors — Lance Orton and Duane Jackson, who both served during the Vietnam War and now rely on special sidewalk vending privileges for disabled veterans — said they told nearby officers about the Pathfinder, which had begun filling with smoke and then emitted sparks and popping sounds.

Over the next several hours, numerous firefighters and police officers — from patrol officers to those in specialized units — all did their part in minimizing the potential damage and handling a volatile situation. And on Sunday night, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg honored one of the officers, Wayne Rhatigan, by taking him to dinner in Times Square.

But in a city hungry for heroes, the spotlight first turned to the vendors. Mr. Orton, a purveyor of T-shirts, ran from the limelight early Sunday morning as he spurned reporters’ questions while gathering his merchandise on a table near where the Pathfinder was parked.

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