We recently received a letter from John Rex of P. O. Box P, Bedford, Massachusetts 01730, with the photos on this page. John asked us to publish them because they show the importance of having fire extinguishers available at engine shows. The pictures were taken at the Orange, Massachusetts show last June 29.
Old engines tend to leak gas and backfire while being started and the possibility of a fire is always present. This particular fire was especially difficult to extinguish because as can be seen in the photos, the gasoline had leaked through the cracks in the truck floor to the ground and the truck bed.
As soon as one fire was extinguished the second fire would relight the first. One extinguisher was not adequate and it was only through the efforts of about 6 to 8 people each with an extinguisher that the fire was totally put out.
My recommendation after witnessing and photographing this fire would be for all engine enthusiasts to carry as a minimum a 10 lb. dry chemical fire extinguisher.
The equipment was a 9 HP Sattley with Webster magneto and was mounted on a newly restored 1965 Ford truck. The owner, Richard Fournier of Warwick, Massachusetts had done a beautiful job of restoration on both the engine and truck. Richard said that there had been a gas leak and when he went to start the engine it backfired through the mixer and set it off. The fire only burned for a couple of minutes before it was put out thanks to the help of everyone with their extinguishers.
Surprisingly after washing off all of the dry chemical no damage was done to the engine or truck; not even the paint was scorched.