Key turns and pickup truck explodes in Hartford Village
Burning truck ignites nearby hillside
HARTFORD VILLAGE - A thick black column of acrid-smelling smoke that was visible from downtown White River Junction rose above Hartford Village Monday afternoon when fire engulfed the engine compartment of a pickup truck on Old River Road and then spread quickly up a steep hillside.
Hartford firefighters managed to stop the brush fire from jumping the train tracks at the top of the slope and they rapidly doused the burning truck which ended up being a total loss.
A view inside the charred truck cab that Chuck Gordon had been sitting in when he turned the key
Owner Chuck Gordon said that over the past several weeks he had been carefully renovating the 2004 truck that he'd gotten a good deal on, repainting it and replacing all kinds of parts and trim, including a like-new bed that ironically had been salvaged intact from another truck which had caught fire.
"I was waiting for my buddy to come over so we could do some work and the truck had old fuel in it and wasn't running real well so I tried putting some fresh fuel in it and when I went to start it - BOOF! - flames were coming right out from under the hood so I jumped out and called 911 because I knew we don't have any water down here," Gordon said, referring the lack of municipal water and sewer service on that section of Old River Road which is still recovering from last year's flash flooding.
Gordon was not hurt but he recalled, "I got really nervous watching the fire race up the hillside thinking 'How far is this going to go?'," adding "There's nothing you can do."
With police at the top of the hillside directing the firehoses along the train tracks, the spread of the fire was halted in a matter of minutes.
Gordon said "The worst part about the whole scenario is that 911 cell calls go to New Hampshire and you are trying to tell them where you are and that you are just down the street from the fire station when they go 'Oh! You are in Vermont?' and then you wait while they transfer you to someone else. That's a real bad system."
Chuck Gordon explains to Hartford Firefighter Dan Jones just how much work had gone into the truck to date
Firefighter Ian Duffy rinses off a hose on Old River Road as he gets ready to pack it up
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