by Kent Fletcher
Gosh, itís amazing what a beautiful day can do for a change, after several days of overcast skies, drizzly rain, and just a general malaise. About 10 this morning, Lilí Darliní told me she was aching for a walk, so we headed out toward the highway on our routine path. About the time I was turning the corner of the yard to go down a gravel road, I looked back up the highway and saw a car, an old Mustang pulled over on the shoulder. A man stepped out and raised the hood. Even from nearly 100 yards away, I could see the flames starting toward the back of the engine compartment.
The fellow stood and looked at it for a few moments, went back to the driverís side of the car, did something, closed the door and came back to the front. Then he lowered the hood and started walking my way, shrugging his shoulders as he walked.
Well, I told Lilí Darliní to just go on back to the house; I needed to see if I could help this fella. The smoke coming from under the hood was definitely increasing although not at a furious race. It was black, for sure, though.
I asked him if he had an extinguisher or anything, which he did not. We stood watching for a few minutes, idly chatting about it. Then we started easing toward it. I asked him how much gas was in the car. He said the tank was full, so we started backing up instead.
I then asked him if he wanted to use a phone or anything, and he said the fire department should be called, he guessed. So I ran over to the house and called 9-1-1. Now I live outside Grandview, TX, but the call went to the emergency services in Cleburne, about 10 miles up the road. The operator asked me specifically where I was, and when I told her about two miles north of Grandview, she said she would pass the word along quickly.
By the time I got back to the event, another feller had stopped and was in the
process of calling the Grandview Fire Department. As it is GFD is
all-volunteer, and evidently no one was around the station. I guess we three
stood out there for another 15 or 20 minutes before we even heard a siren.
A few minutes after the starter quit, the headlights and parking lights came on. Christine. And the fire had worked its way down the engine and was flaring out beneath the chassis. I was halfway expecting this Christine would duplicate what we all saw in the movie, that it would put its own fire out, the front end and hood of the car would magically reconstruct itself, and the car would go on down the road, driver or not, radio blaring some old song from the 60s. Then the lights slowly went out, and I knew that wasnít going to happen.
About the time the lights went out, the fire had moved over to the left front wheel compartment. Without really looking it was clear the tire had caught fire. Of course we three were still concerned about the full gas tank. A couple of young men pulled up and parked directly across the road. The engine died on the truck. We were holleriní at them to move away, but they couldnít get the truck running. They finally had the collective knowledge to simply push it back.
So the fire truck from Grandview finally arrived, and the crew went into action quickly. They sprayed down the front end of the Mustang, and liked to never got the hood open. They finally pried it up and braced it, unloading the water in a fierce spray. But you know those flames beneath the car didnít go out immediately? And about the time the spray hit the engine, the left front tire blew with the fireman standing right next to it. He hardly flinched, a well-steeled man.
This Christine will never see another day, Iím afraid. The car wonít reconstruct itself like in the movie. Now someone may be able to reconstruct the car himself or herself, but itís going to take beaucoup bucks to do it. The water the fire company had to use on the car was not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. The owner of the car told me it was all original, all pristine, all perfect, even down to the operating ragtop. Man, what a waste. But the good thing is that he smelled the smoke or fire as he was driving down the road and was able to exit the car before the flames got to the fuel tank.
Congratulations should go to the crewmembers of the Grandview Fire Department for their excellent and complete job of putting out the fire. There was one little vestige of smoke that wouldnít go away, though. They had to tear out the dash and pull some insulation out to stop that last little smoldering.
A county sheriffís deputy came by and filled out some paperwork. A wrecker was called and finally the car hauled off. The gas tank was still leaking, but the danger of explosion was completely quenched.
So, with apologies to Stephen King, this Christine is definitely not coming
Write Kent Fletcher at this address. And look for more of Kentís stories at USADS by visiting our Articles pages.
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