Lifestyle & Human Interest

Man Spots Burning Car, Warns Clueless Elderly Driver Sitting Inside: Moments Later, Car Explodes


When John Hansen of Greenville, South Carolina, headed to Cleveland, Ohio, to pick up an Expedition he was buying and drive it back home, he had no idea his day would involve more than a road trip.

Things started out well, he settled with the owner of the car, and then headed out. As he was driving along I-77, at around 10:57 a.m., a silver Jeep passed him.

It was on fire.

As he watched, the driver pulled over onto the shoulder, and proceeded to stay inside his vehicle, seemingly unconcerned and perhaps unaware of the flames belching out the front of his vehicle.

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“He pulled off to the shoulder of the road and sat there on the phone and I pulled in front of him in case his vehicle exploded,” he later told WKYC-TV.

Hansen described the uncanny scene in great detail in a Facebook post.

“The elderly man driving the rapidly growing bonfire just sat in his car having a leisurely conversation on his phone,” Hansen wrote. “I guess he could see the steam coming from the radiator but not the fire ramping up under his seat.

“It was already over 90° Fahrenheit in the Akron area and was about to get even toastier for this guy relaxing in his mobile fire pit. I ran up to the burning Jeep and knocked on the door and politely asked him to get out.

“He looked up at me and seemingly rather reluctantly opened the door and got out, taking his time to remove some items while I captured a pic from the front of the vehicle of his laid-back exit.

“He then went around to the rear of the vehicle and proceeded to remove the rear license tag. I assumed he must have wanted to turn it in for a refund since by now his vehicle was definitely ON FIRE.”

Finally, the man was out and away from the dangerous situation, and not a moment too soon. As soon as he moseyed away, the car began exploding.

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At 11:08, the Akron Fire Department arrived and made quick work of the fireball.

“When they sprayed that vehicle, I mean in seconds that whole… well, you couldn’t see anything for a bit, like soot was, soot was flying in the air and everything, and then all of a sudden, it was out,” Hansen said.

A representative for the Akron Fire Department said that on that day alone, they’d responded to three separate car fires. As things heat up, authorities are reminding people to keep their vehicles maintained and be aware of the possibility of overheating and fire.

According to the comments on Hansen’s post, the driver didn’t really talk to Hansen or acknowledge his help, he was more concerned about the state of the car — but not distraught, as one might expect from someone who’d had a close brush with death.

Hansen maintains that he’s no hero and the gentleman would’ve gotten out on his own in time, but readers aren’t convinced.

“Praise the Lord you came along!” one person wrote. “It sounds like things might have been a lot worse for this man if you haven’t.”

“He would have figured it out when he remembered that model Jeep didn’t have a seat heater,” Hansen quipped.

Either way, there were no injuries reported.

After less than half an hour on the scene, Hansen continued his road trip, only discovering after stopping for lunch that he was still wearing some mementos of his earlier heroics.

“I left the scene at 11:13 am and proceeded on down the interstate until I stopped for lunch,” his post continued. “When I entered the restroom I looked in the mirror and discovered to my embarrassment that I had been traveling with black soot streaks all over my head and face.

“I went into action with the hand soap dispenser and walked out of the bathroom ready to face polite society again with no visible reminder of my too close encounter with the high pressure Akron Fire Department car-fire suppression activities.”

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