Eyewitness thankful SUV fire did not turn deadly

Published: Feb. 22, 2016 at 2:56 AM CST|Updated: Apr. 22, 2016 at 1:56 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A Lake Charles gas station is back open after a 1997 Ford Expedition caught fire there Saturday afternoon - ruining two gas pumps.

KPLC viewer, James Mackey, was there and captured the frightening ordeal on camera.

His video shows flames ravage the SUV.

"You can hear the tires explode and you hear the glass shatter... at one point there are several rounds of ammunition that go off in the car," Mackey said.

In a desperate attempt - Mackey said he tried to push the SUV away from the gas pumps with his truck but quickly bailed out for his own safety.

"I wasn't scared so much as I was concerned," he added. "I could feel the heat coming over the truck I was in and as soon as I felt that heat I knew that the flames were coming on the back side. Once that car was on fire there was absolutely no way anybody could have safely moved it and as soon as I found I couldn't move it I backed up and got across the highway and got out of the way and told him to run."

The aftermath of the blaze was a scene straight out of a movie... leaving charred signs, melted handles and peeled keypads - evidence of what happened but also a reminder of what didn't.

"I'm actually surprised there's not more… I really am," Mackey said. "The canopy has got some burn marks on it. I'm surprised the pumps didn't melt. It was a very intense fire and I literally was waiting for it to explode."

Mackey toured the damage for the first time Sunday and said he is just glad no one was hurt.

"Honestly, I think we're extremely lucky no one was hurt," he said. "I probably should have been further away. The people who were in the car were already out. It was simply a physical situation and lives matter more than property."

The business owner said he believes the SUV overheated; however, Lake Charles fire officials continue to investigate and have not yet determined the cause of the blaze.

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