Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles on South Whidbey Wednesday afternoon when a pickup truck burnt to a crisp in Freeland.
The truck, located on Timber Lane, was fully engulfed in the middle of the street when South Whidbey Fire/EMS received the call around 2:30 p.m. The flames reached as high as nearby power lines — about 25 feet, South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Mike Cotton said. The cloud of smoke rose about 50 feet. The truck was on fire for about 20 minutes before it was extinguished by firefighters. Nobody was injured in the incident.
Neighborhood residents said the truck was already on fire as it was driving up Timber Lane.
“My neighbor saw the guy speeding up the street with a flame coming from the back of his truck,” said Amy Lynds. “He stopped in the middle of the street and jumped out, and shortly after the truck was completely on fire.”
Three firetrucks arrived on the scene as neighborhood residents looked on to watch the car burn from their front yards. Cotton said the neighborhood was lucky that the truck was in the middle of the street rather than in a garage or in a front yard. Small patches of grass caught fire near the truck, but nothing else caught fire in the incident.
“Fortunately from what we saw, there weren’t any exposures where it could have caused more serious damage,” Cotton said. “Other than some grass near the truck, nothing else was burnt.”
Cotton says the incident could have been caused by a fuel leak the owner identified to first responders. He thinks the fire started in the back with the leak, followed the fuel trail to the front of the truck before the entire vehicle was engulfed. Cotton said there was a small fuel can in the truck bed as well. The owner of the vehicle said the truck backfired “every once in a while,” and was a poorly running vehicle.
The truck owner was never identified by South Whidbey Fire/EMS or the Island County Sheriff’s office. The owner had a couple thousand dollars worth of tools in the truck bed, and lost between one and two thousand dollars, Cotton said.
“A lot of times, car fires are more confined, but this one was truly fully involved,” Cotton said. “It was an older truck and that stuff goes up quickly. I talked to the owner and he’s going to miss his old truck.”