CALCUTTA - An East Liverpool man says he feels very fortunate to have safely escaped from a fire that swept through his pickup truck on Wednesday evening.
William Williams, 23, of East Liverpool, was pulling into the parking lot of Summit Square Plaza in Calcutta shortly after 6 p.m., when flames suddenly shot out of the dashboard vents of his 2002 Ford F-150. He drove into the lot, parked the truck and ducked out as quickly as he could. "As soon as I got out of there, it was just engulfed," he said.
Williams says he detected a smell like burning wiring as he drove down Dresden Avenue towards the plaza, but it eventually disappeared. "The smell went away, so I didn't think anything about it," he said. "As soon as I turned in, it just caught fire."
William Williams of East Liverpool says he was lucky to escape uninjured from a fire that swept through his pickup truck Wednesday evening in the parking lot of Summit Square Plaza in Calcutta. Crews from Calcutta and Glenmoor volunteer fire departments extinguished the blaze. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
St. Clair Township Police Officer Ryan Stovall, who also serves on East Liverpool City Council, was attending to a stranded vehicle at the corner of Dresden Avenue and state Route 170 when dispatch informed him of a vehicle fire in the plaza parking lot. He says the truck was in flames by the time he arrived moments later. Stovall used the fire extinguisher from his police cruiser on the inferno, to little effect. "It slowed it down, but didn't put it out," he said.
Firefighters from Glenmoor and Calcutta stations, backed up by units from Tri-County Ambulance and Lifeteam EMS, were at the plaza within minutes and were able to douse the inferno before it spread beyond the interior and engine compartment. The inside of the truck was completely gutted, however.
Chief Scott Smith of the Calcutta Volunteer Fire Department said no cause was immediately apparent and that the complete destruction of the interior could make the source very difficult to find. "When it burns to that extent, sometimes it's even hard to find anything, since it burns so much up," he said.
Chief Smith gave Williams credit for his quick thinking, parking his burning truck in an empty area of the lot. By doing so, Smith says he provided fire crews with excellent access to battle the blaze and kept other vehicles and people away from danger.
Williams, who is insured for the loss, says it was good fortune that his girlfriend was not with him, since he was on his way to buy her a Christmas present.
"I'm just glad nobody was with me," he said.