January 29, 2013

Fire destroys car in Fairfield; no injuries or charges

Section of Route 104 closed Tuesday for firefighting effort

By Ben McCanna bmccanna@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD -- No one was injured in a stubborn car fire that closed part of Route 104 for about an hour Tuesday while firefighters from Fairfield and Watervillle doused the flames.

click image to enlarge

A 2000 Pontiac Grand Am burns on Norridgewock Road in Fairfield Tuesday. A nearby business owner, Bill Lybrook, tipped the car with a front-end loader to allow firefighters access to the undercarriage.

Staff photo by Ben McCanna

At one point, firefighters also recruited the help of a nearby business owner.

The fire began about 10:30 a.m., after Oakland resident Ronald Morin drove his 2000 Pontiac Grand Am into the parking lot at Bill's Auto Salvage, 228 Norridgewock Road, to buy auto parts. While Morin, 47, was inside, an employee noticed smoke coming from the car, according to Fire Chief Duane Bickford.

Several employees unsuccessfully tried to douse the fire, business owner Bill Lybrook said. When it was clear they were overmatched by the spreading fire, Lybrook called 911, he said. Next, Lybrook hopped into the seat of his front-end loader and pushed the car away from his business.

Fairfield firefighters fought the blaze for about 30 minutes, but the fire grew so hot that the car's plastic gas tank melted and spilled gasoline continued to feed the fire, Bickford said. Eventually, Waterville fire units were called in and used fire-suppressing foam to "cover and smother" the fuel -- material that the Fairfield department does not have, he said.

Before the foam arrived, however, a 60-foot-long stream of burning gasoline briefly rolled downhill toward Fairfield Center.

Firefighters also recruited Lybrook and his front-end loader to assist with the blaze. At one point, Lybrook used the heavy machine to pop the burning car's trunk so firefighters could get access to the flames. Later, Lybrook used the machine to tilt the car onto two wheels so water streams could reach the smoldering undercarriage.

Bickford said it's rare that a civilian assists, but "it's nice when they're there and they're able."

The fire destroyed Morin's car. Bickford said the fire might have begun with a short circuit under the dashboard.

Sgt. Paul St. Amand said no charges will be filed.

Ben McCanna -- 861-9239

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