Firefighters Save Home in Pembroke After Vehicle Engulfed in Flames

Not much remains of the Lingleys’ 2005 Ford Explorer Sport Trac following a fast-acting fire, but the Pembroke family was spared the loss of their house through the quick response of local firefighters and the good fortune of not having vinyl siding. (Submitted photos)

By Lura Jackson

A Pembroke family escaped major catastrophe this past week following a fire that began in a vehicle parked between their home and their shed with only a few feet on either side as a buffer. A seemingly spontaneous fire ignited the Lingley’s’ 2005 Ford Explorer Sport Trac in the morning of Wednesday, November 28th, but firefighters contained the blaze before it could spread.

Darlene Lingley recalls that the morning was a messy mixture of precipitation and ice and she’d gone outside to determine if she and her son, Dylan, should take the truck or their other vehicle in to Calais. She decided their other vehicle would be sufficient and went to warm it up. She didn’t turn on the Ford truck at all, and it hadn’t been started since the day before.

The Lingleys purchased the truck in September earlier this year with the intention of securing a 4x4 for the often-difficult weather conditions that can arise in winter. They had only used it a handful of times as the weather hadn’t called for it yet.

As Darlene was getting into the Lingleys’ other vehicle, she caught the smell of smoke – but she thought it was just woodsmoke from the neighbors. But then something caught her eye by the truck. “I looked back and I saw flames shooting out of it. I yelled for Dylan to get out of the house because I wasn’t sure if it was going to explode,” she said.

The Lingleys got in the car and drove to the end of the driveway to call 9-1-1. A sheriff’s deputy pulled in moments later and they went across the street. Not long afterward, the Pembroke and Dennysville fire departments arrived. With just a few feet on either side of the vehicle between the Lingleys’ home and their shed, and perhaps ten feet from their propane tank, the situation wasn’t good. “It’s awful when you go across the road and you’re wondering if you’ll have a home to go back to,” Darlene shared. “It’s one thing to lose a vehicle, but to lose everything you own – to just see the flames and the fire trucks going in…”

Fortunately, there were several factors in the Lingleys’ favor. The rapid response of the volunteer fire departments certainly helped, Darlene said. “They said five more minutes and you wouldn’t have had a house.”

Another factor was the exterior composition of the home, explained Pembroke Fire Chief Jim Ramsdell. “They’re really lucky that the house didn’t catch fire,” Ramsdell said, describing how the siding on the house played a major role. “If it was shingle or vinyl, they would have lost it.”

After dispatching to the Lingleys’ home at about 7:30 in the morning, the ten firefighters from Pembroke and Dennysville contained the fire and left the scene just an hour later. Dylan said that they had to knock a few of the shingles off that had caught fire, half of one gutter melted, and the exterior pane of a double-pane window received a crack, but, other than that, the damage to the property overall was fortunately minimal.

As for the truck? “We got back and there was a huge black husk of a tan vehicle,” Dylan said. The fire apparently started behind the driver’s side rear wheel, quickly consuming the entire rear end of the truck but leaving the cab and the tailgate intact. “It looks like a pool of black between the front and the tailgate,” Dylan said.

The Lingleys have fire insurance on the vehicle and have been working with the company on the claim to help replace the vehicle. The Sheriff’’s Department, which Chief Deputy Michael Crabtree notes was there for just a few minutes, recorded the incident as a possible fuel issue.

 

With the replacement process for the vehicle underway and no major damage to their home, the Lingleys are counting their blessings after the event-filled morning. “It ain’t something you want to do every day,” Darlene succinctly summarized.