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Car burns following accident

By Lesley Covington
Senior Staff Writer

A car driven by a UNCP freshman burst into flames after an accident Feb. 9 in front of the Lumbee Hall exit onto Prospect Road.
           
Robeson County Emergency Services responded at 12:34 p.m., and ambulances took the driver of the car and the driver of the second vehicle in the accident to Southeastern Regional Medical Center.

A car caught on fire after an accident on Prospect Road Feb. 9. The car landed on the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association building’s front lawn.

Photo by Kelly Freeman
A car caught on fire after an accident on Prospect Road Feb. 9. The car landed on the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association building’s front lawn.

Junior Jenae Hebb and sophomore Stacie Kloiber, both Social Work majors, witnessed the accident between the car and a truck, driven by a UNCP senior.
           
“When I saw it, I knew somebody had to be hurt,” Kloiber said. “I watched a piece of glass, like a whole sheet, come out.”
           
The car fire began shortly after the collision.
           
“Within probably two minutes after the accident, it went up in flames,” Hebb said.
           
Each woman went for fire extinguishers, while the boyfriend of the woman in the burning car rescued her, they said.
           
The boyfriend’s car was positioned behind his girlfriend’s as they were exiting from the Lumbee Hall loop, according to both witnesses.
           
“Thankfully the boyfriend was right behind her,” Kloiber said.
           
The boyfriend could not be reached for comment.
           
Kloiber searched the nearby Baptist Student Union for a fire extinguisher, while Hebb ran to a stopped school bus for another, they said. They said they were able to douse the fire for a short time, but then the car burst into flames.
           
At 12:39 p.m. the first fire truck arrived on the scene from Pembroke Rural Station 21, according to Robeson County Emergency Services. The fire was doused after the second fire truck from Station 21 arrived. Station 21 was the only station to respond to the call.
           
According to the Highway Patrol’s report, the woman driving the car has been charged with an unsafe movement violation. Her vehicle was traveling east and the truck was traveling north on Prospect Road. After the accident, the truck came to rest in the drive of the Baptist Building, while the car stopped in front of the building.
           
“Both of them are going to the hospital,” EMT Brent Tyler said at the scene.

Hebb let the woman sit in her minivan to collect herself immediately following the accident.            

“She’s all shook up,” Hebb said of the woman. “I just told her it would be in her best interest to get checked out.”

The automobile’s safety devices were working, according one witness.            

“One of the things I noticed—they both had air bags,” Kloiber said. “Both airbags deployed.”

A car fire poses several risks to firefighters.            
           
“The risk of explosion actually increases with less fuel in the tank,” Lumberton Fire Chief James M. Cox said, explaining that increased gasoline vapor is more likely to ignite and explode. “The bumpers can release from the vehicle. Tires can explode.”

Many of the components in today’s cars can be very toxic, Cox said, and firefighters must wear a self-contained breathing apparatus. The firefighter approaches the vehicle from a 45 degree angle as protection from flying debris.            
           
An additive, called foam, is added to the water because the heat in a car fire may be too strong for water alone, he said. By 1:03 p.m. the fire crew had cleared the scene, according to Robeson County Emergency Services.            

At 1:30 p.m. the second ambulance left with the man from the truck.

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Updated: Thursday, February 22, 2007
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