Jason Pennington told the entertainment news website TMZ he was driving along the 101 freeway when he saw a smoke-filled Jaguar stopped on the shoulder. Pennington said he pulled over and found an elderly man hunched over the wheel. It was Van Dyke, 87, TMZ said.
Pennington says he opened the driver's door and pulled Van Dyke out as flames licked the car's engine.
TMZ said Van Dyke, though slightly disoriented by the close call, did not require medical treatment.
CNN reported California state police said Van Dyke's wife Arlene was with him and also escaped unharmed.
Publicist Bob Palmer told the network Van Dyke was "fine" though "slightly embarrassed" and was "appreciative of the instant help he got on the road."