For the second time in the Mountain Area on Monday, a resident managed to escape a vehicle fire after it quickly erupted in flames.
George Hathaway was sitting in the driver’s seat of a black 1990 V12 Jaguar XLS when it suddenly exploded underneath the passenger’s side, spreading fire up the plywood wall of the carport at his home on Chipo Poyah Road, called “Hathaway’s Hideaway.”
Hathaway said in that moment, before he escaped as quickly as possible while using his cane, he thought he was “cooked.”
“I was sitting in a ball of fire,” Hathaway said. “It was crazy.”
Hathaway’s hands were lightly singed, with no blisters and no major injuries. He refused medical care.
Cal Fire Engine 4254 from Bass Lake was first on scene after receiving calls of the fire at 3:15 p.m., and contained the blaze within ten minutes.
Incident commander Mike Hunziker said the car suffered less damage than expected, and it appeared to be a mechanical issue that caused its engine to erupt.
Hunziker added it was fortunate Hathaway had metal over the carport’s roof that protected a wood deck, as the flames could have quickly spread to his three-story home.
“We averted a real catastrophe here,” Hunziker said. “If we hadn’t gotten here in time and he didn’t have that roof, it would have been a firefighter’s nightmare.”
Hunziker added neighbors quickly rushed to Hathaway’s house when he started yelling for help, and were attempting to put it out with garden hoses when firefighters arrived.
Hathaway, 87, said he has two other cars he can use instead of the Jaguar.
The Jaguar car fire follows an incident earlier Monday afternoon, when longtime Sierra Star columnist Peter Cavanaugh, with his wife Eileen, had to quickly exit their Buick Park Avenue sedan when it burst into flames over Deadwood on Highway 41. They were not injured, though the vehicle was totaled.