ROCKINGHAM — Bystanders rushed to pull a mother and her baby from a flaming car after a wreck at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Wiregrass roads around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The black sedan’s engine was already on fire when several men and at least one woman charged toward the burning car and helped the pair to escape.
The mother was able to walk a little unsteadily from the car, and a man wearing jeans and a long-sleeved, gray shirt carried the crying baby away from the vehicle.
As the fire began to spread, people who had gathered to help began advising each other to get farther back for fear of an explosion. Flames quickly spread from the engine, engulfing the interior of the car. Soon, firefighters from the Northside Fire Department arrived and managed to put out the flames before they reached the fuel tank.
Just a few feet from the burning sedan, a gray SUV had landed on its roof, crushing the front end. The driver, believed to have no passengers with him at the time, stood at a distance watching the flames, seemingly dazed and bleeding from the head.
The woman and baby were taken to a hospital in an ambulance. Their conditions were unavailable at press time. It was not known whether the man driving the SUV sought medical attention.
MOVING VAN CATCHES FIRE
HOFFMAN — Less than an hour earlier, another vehicle fire sent the Hoffman Fire Department to extinguish a blazing rental van at the corner of U.S. 1 and Wall Street.
Javorris Young and Anjelique Braxton, a couple, were driving separately with new furniture packed into a van from Rent-A-Wreck in Aberdeen.
Braxton said she was ahead of Young when something went wrong.
“I smelled the smoke, and then a guy pulled up beside me,” Young said. “He had been telling me, ‘Your car’s on fire!’ I was on the phone, so I’m like, ‘On fire?’ He was pointing and he tried telling me, ‘It’s the tire! It’s your tire!’ So, I pulled over and I called 911. But we had a bedroom suit basically in the back. So, I just got it, so I’m worried about it burning up, but everything was all right. Thank the Lord, everything was fine. I’m fine, still in one piece. I’m good.”
Hoffman Fire Chief Frank McKay explained what he thought may have caused the fire.
“We think that the right rear wheel cylinder blew out,” he said. “It was sitting right there where that’s burnt, and they moved it up. And one of my guys, who we now call ‘Big Foot,’ stomped it out. But you look under there, there is liquid on the tail pipe, which we believe is probably brake fluid. But thank goodness, ‘cause it’s loaded down with furniture. New furniture.”
Moments later, a van nearly identical to the one Young had been driving pulled up and parked ahead of the original rental. Erica Butler and a colleague from Rent-a-Wreck helped unload the furniture from the disabled van and reload it into its replacement.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673.