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October 10, 2019: Fire on the Mountain

My EMT teacher and neighbor Dorothy Adler took the attached photo. This is what we came across as we came up Murphy Road. The burning vehicle was a very short distance to the Oceanview Road turnoff. I live ¼ of a mile down Oceanview Road.

Those in the background are my neighbors who live at the end of Oceanview Road. Dorothy and I saw the car simultaneously and I asked her to stop. I ran past the car and over to Anthony and Anthony’s girlfriend. The first thought that came to mind was scene safety. Had anyone been in the car I would not have attempted to rescue them. Watching out for #1 is stressed in EMT training. I mentioned this to Anthony, and he said that had he known anyone was in the car, he would have attempted to rescue them.

According to the pair, the car had been burning 10 minutes. They surmised that someone had driven up to the turnoff, set the car on fire, then driven off with the person who’d followed them up there.

Me, I was just hoping that the car didn’t belong to a hiker – what a surprise that would be, had someone gone for a walk, returned, and then discovered that their car was fodder for those wanting to cook s’mores.

I got back in the car. Dorothy drove me to my place, and I dropped off my boots and backpack. Then we returned to the scene of the crime. I got out of the car and Dorothy drove past it, really fast. Right as she was going by, there was a loud popping sound. Anthony said that the tire had just blown up.

For a while we all watched as flames engulfed the car and black smoke billowed skyward. There were a few more popping sounds, then a loud explosion – Anthony said that most likely this was the fuel tank. I expressed my concern about the surrounding area – that brush and trees might catch fire. Fortunately, the wind wasn’t blowing hard. If it had been, there would have been a woods fire.

After a bit, the Palmer Volunteer Fire Department Chief showed up. Smart guy, he knew not to get too close. By now the former red car was now gray in color. I talked with him for a long, long, time – about car fires, where they occur, and why people start them

Fire squads are close cousins of EMT squads. EMTs go in when the scene is safe. Fire and Police officers make sure that the scene is safe. This is their relationship, and I thought it behooved me to find out as much as I could about their particular mindset.

It turns out that this fellow was the guy who pinned my neighbor Jim against the wall when Jim (about 4 years back) attempted to run into his burning conex in order to retrieve a tin can containing money.

It was as we were talking that a fire truck with hoses and a fire truck with water arrived on the scene. There were four firemen, two were still in high school. They pulled forth three blue hoses, hooked them to the front truck, and half carried half pulled the hoses over to the car. They then dosed the car – the black billowing smoke immediately turned white.

I caught a glimpse of the car – now just a shell – it reminded me of the locust shells we as kids used to find on trees in the summer. The chief remarked that the vehicle most likely contained contraband, this was then the motive for setting it on fire.

Finally, the state trooper arrived – he spoke with the chief and with two other neighbors who lived close by. Jake and Dave told him they heard a loud boom and then four not so loud booms. The state trooper didn’t seem surprised.

Me, I asked him when the vehicle might be removed. He said he had no idea – he’d call a few tow truck companies but expressed doubt about them assisting in hauling the former Ford Fiesta away.

So now we have this burnt out vehicle at the base of the Murphy Road trailhead. Well, if it is there next September there will be less room for hunters to park.

Next: 281. 10/11/19: What Would Noah Do?

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