CHUCK MYRON / WINK News

Family escapes injury in Fort Myers car fire

FORT MYERS, Fla. A car on fire. Sirens blaring. A woman in tears a day before her 88th birthday.

A Sunday afternoon scene that had all the elements of tragedy instead turned out OK. No one was hurt when a 2012 Hyundai Sonata burst into flames at about 2:45 p.m. along the westbound shoulder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard just west of I-75.

Lehigh Acres resident Paul Douglas heard a pop as he was driving the Sonata south on I-75, so he pulled off onto MLK, he said. His son, driving behind him, followed him off the interstate.

The Sonata’s engine went out and Douglas coasted onto the shoulder. He lifted the hood and noticed the fire.

“We got the heck out of the way and called 911,” Douglas said.

Flames quickly engulfed the car as Douglas, his son, and his mother watched and waited for first responders. A truck driver pulled up and offered a fire extinguisher, but by then, it was too late.

“That was the longest stretch I have ever stood on MLK and a cop hasn’t driven by,” said Douglas’ son, Paul Douglas II. “It was a good, solid 10 minutes.”

A fire engine ultimately pulled up and a police cruiser soon followed. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze in about five minutes, leaving the charred remains.

The affair shook up Phyllis Sheets, Douglas’ mother. She wept as Douglas II comforted her and Douglas spoke with first responders. But soon she regained composure and quipped about the big day ahead of her Monday.

“If I live ’til tomorrow, I’ll be 88,” she said.

Sunday was already a pretty big day for the family, too — the car Douglas II was driving was one Douglas had just bought to replace the Sonata, which was having trouble even before the fire.

“Everything just worked itself out,” Douglas II said.

WINK News went live via Facebook as the Sonata burned. The video shows the fire engine pulling up and firefighters putting out the blaze.

 

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