Truck fire

Fire and smoke consume the truck belonging to Sam and Gail Woods. The couple is safe thanks to their neighbor, Emily Ivey.

Emily Ivey was walking her dog beside the road that runs near her home on a brisk, beautiful day in February. A truck approached, and she recognized it belonged to her neighbors, Sam and Gail Woods. Ivey did what she’s done hundreds of times when she sees neighbors: She waved.

The Woods slowed down and pulled their Dodge Dakota alongside Emily to chat. As she talked with the couple through the window, Emily caught something out of the corner of her eye. It was smoke coming from under the hood of the truck.

“My first thought was, ‘I don’t think that’s supposed to be happening to the engine,’” Emily said. “So, I’m like, ‘I would get out. I think your engine’s on fire.”

Smoke coming from under a hood is never a good sign, but it could have been the engine overheating. The Woods had just had the oil changed, so the smoke could have been spilled oil burning off the engine manifold. 

It also could have been coming from the flames that were now pouring from the motor. In a matter of minutes, the truck was engulfed in a furious battle of orange and black. 

The Woods hadn’t noticed the smoke coming from their truck. Perhaps because they had been driving around 45 MPH, but it was more likely the smoke and fire hadn’t started until the truck came to a stop next to Emily.

Once out of the truck, Sam, Gail and Emily stood back and waited for the fire department to arrive. Emily said they could hear small popping sounds and then a loud explosion as the heat and flames filled the cabin of the truck and blew out the windows.

It’s scary to think that only moments before their truck was reduced to a skeleton of hot, charred metal, the Woods were chugging along down the road. Had they not stopped to visit with Emily, Sam and Gail would have gone home and parked their truck in their garage. Right next to that garage is Sam’s big pig cooker, which is connected to a tank that’s filled with oil.

It is scary to think about the fire that torched the Woods’ truck, but it’s difficult to imagine the magnitude of destruction that could have happened had Emily Ivey not done the neighborly thing of waving.

Emily, who is a sophomore at Orange High School, said she now feels differently about acknowledging her neighbors, and understands they all have a responsibility to look after each other, just as she did with the Woods.

“I just I’m so thankful that they stopped to say hello to me,” she said.