On a road trip to the south of USA a couple of years back, the red Suzuki Reno was what we got as a rental car from Athens, Georgia. We were to travel for 8 days winding our way through rural and urban America enjoying its coast, cultural heritage of the south and the wild parties of New Orleans. We were happy with the small size of the car, its colour, fuel efficiency and thought we were out to have a lot of fun.
We had already logged in some 6 days on the road and crossed 5 states–Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. Approaching towards the end of our journey, we were looking forward to end in Atlanta, Georgia with the last 2 days of good food and more fun.
Somewhere in Alabama, on I-65 we encountered an accident and traffic slowed down to a crawl. The clear blue sky, the high temperatures and the long drive ahead was taking over our senses. We decided to reapply our sun-screen lotion to save our skin from further damage. In the meantime, traffic started to ease and my foot began its press on the gas pedal. I realized then that something was wrong and I was not able to pick up speed.
Since we started to slow down, we decided to move to the right, park the car and take a look. As soon as we parked, we noticed smoke from the front and it was increasing by the ‘second’. We managed to scramble out of the car and I desperately started to sign passing cars for ‘Help’. Well, we had just lost our only cell phone the previous evening and we couldn’t even call 911 for help…..
Immediately as we stopped, one of the crew who were clearing the road from the previous accident, pulled up behind us and he called 911 and road assistance. Then he started to help us pull out the entire luggage from the car. By then we noticed that there was on fire and it was spreading fast. It was all over on the road and under the car.
By the time we pulled out the last important thing from the car, the heat was unbearable and there were lots of ‘boom, bang and pop’ sounds from the car. We, like any true Hollywood-Bollywood fan, thought it was going to erupt into a ball of flame any second now. With help still on the way but not yet here, we started to pull further back and away from the car.
The further we moved back, the more intense the heat, smoke and fire became. With still no fire truck in view, my friend instructed me to start clicking photos …….well the car gone in flames now, we need the proof for the insurance and another vehicle from the rental company to get us on the road again.
As the fire engulfed the whole car, we heard the fire truck sirens at a distance. Traffic was still filing past the inferno very cautiously. Thick black smoke rose to heights into the blue sky and we were still standing helplessly by the road. We couldn’t believe we were in the car some 5-10 mins ago. The fire truck finally arrived but by then the entire car was up in flames. The smoke was thicker and darker by the minute and Mile 89 stood a silent witness to the fire and smoke display. Traffic was finally stopped as now the car certainly seemed to be erupting into a complete ball of flame.
Good news–the firemen seemed to get the water finally started. Once the firemen were at work, the smoke changed its colour from black to white. It took a while but finally the fire was out. The fire was now no more and the car was no more too!!!
Our next mode of transportation was the Alabama State Trooper’s car.
What we saved–Ourselves and most of our luggage
What we lost–The CAR and its GPS
What we learnt–Where there is smoke, there is fire and fire spreads unbelievably fast