ENON — An automobile fire shut down eastbound State Route 4 near the Donnelsville/Enon exit Saturday afternoon.
The fire started in the engine compartment of the 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 around 2 p.m. April 5 and quickly spread through the passenger compartment. The driver, William Barron, of Fairborn, his wife Anne, and grandson, Billy Graves, 11, of Springfield, escaped without injury.
“We were taking our grandson home, had just gotten off I-70 and were going around the bend on Route 4 when the car started sputtering and then totally died,” Barron said. “I saw smoke coming out and when I reached down to open the hood flames shot out. I yelled ‘Get out, the car’s on fire.’”
The family tossed their personal belongs from the cab into the empty trailer they were towing. Barron unhooked the trailer and moved it away from the car before going back to unload the trunk.
“When I was unloading the trunk I saw fire coming through the dash board,” he said. “We quickly shut the doors to keep the breeze from fanning the flames towards the gas tank.”
Three explosions, from the air bags and front tire, blew out the front windows and scattered burning debris and glass along the side of the road and six feet into the grass, according to Barron.
Bethel Township Fire Department was on the scene within three minutes as they were training nearby in Enon.
“They put the fire out pretty quickly, which was fortunate because when they started to knock down the fire you could see flames under the gas tank,” said Barron. “I’d say it was just in the nick of time, because I had just refilled the gas tank. If it had exploded it would have taken out more than just our car.”
Barron believes the hood liner fell down onto the manifold and started the fire. The day before he smelled something burning and found the hood liner was scorched. He bought universal clips to hold it in place until he could get to a Ford dealership on Monday.
“I don’t think they were big enough to hold it and it must have fallen back down,” he said.