My demolition derby dreams literally went up in smoke this past weekend.
My lifelong dream of smashing up a car on purpose took a step closer to reality when a colleague of my mom offered my brother and I a free 2001 Daewoo Lanos sedan. The only catch was we had to pick it up (like that’s even a catch!).
The car hadn’t run in about seven years, but all it needed was a new fuel pump and it was ready to go. We did the work in the fall and then stored it outside over the winter under a tarp at the back of our property, waiting for spring so we could begin stripping it and prepping it for automotive mayhem.
But some idiot smoker had other plans.
Someone driving past the back of our property on Sunday decided to chuck a cigarette butt in the ditch, which was full of dry leaves. A clear swath can be seen where the fire burned up from the road, at first heading away from the Daewoo, but then turning back around and making a beeline for the car.
No one was home when the fire began, but luckily, a passing motorist noticed the fire and alerted the authorities using OnStar (thanks, GM!). When my parents arrived home, the flames were already 10 feet over the Daewoo, licking at the large maple tree it was parked under.
My dad knew the small car was already a write-off, but we also have a 1987 Ford Ranger project truck that was parked about five feet away, and he noticed the flames had already begun heading towards the back end of the truck. Using a household fire extinguisher, he got in close to the flames (perhaps foolishly, in retrospect) and put out a small fire that had spread to the truck’s rear right wheel. Besides a melted tarp, the Ranger is totally fine.
The fire department showed up about 10 minutes after being called and quickly put out the flames. Luckily no one was hurt and luckier still that the only car we lost was eventually headed to the scrap yard anyways.
So, if you’re a smoker, please hear this message: Take care of your cigarette butts. Get an ashtray or a butt bucket. Never, on a hot dry day, throw small fire starters into a ditch full of leaves. Also a note for those storing cars: Try to park your cars on gravel or concrete to keep this type of fire risk at a minimum.
This time, it was only my demolition derby dreams ruined, and now the car will be sent to the scrap yard. Next time something like this happens, it could be much worse.