Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Do we need to call the fire department? February 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:18 AM
Tags: , , ,

“WE NEED TO GET the car out of the garage!” I yell, throwing open the passenger side door as I observe smoke seeping from under the hood. “Do we need to call the fire department?

“I don’t know. Get out and push,” my husband orders after he has turned off the car and then turned the ignition switch back on and then off, realizing his mistake.

And like that I rocket out the door, lock gloved hands onto the hood and push with all my might to get our 1995 Chrysler Concorde out of our attached garage.

Gas fumes hang heavy in the air. In that adrenalin-charged moment, a visual image of the car bursting into flames, igniting the garage and then catching our house afire flashes before my eyes.

I am scared, but not astute enough to realize that I could be placing myself in danger by staying with the car.

Together we manage to get the Concorde out the garage door and parked on the driveway next to the house, although I am screaming, “We need to push it to the end of the driveway away from the house (and other vehicles).”

Randy isn’t listening, mostly because he knows the car isn’t going to explode now. The danger has passed. He lifts the hood. The “smoke” I’d seen wasn’t smoke at all, but vapors from gas hitting a hot engine. However, I knew the danger had been real and a fire could have erupted. That Randy does not deny.

The Chrysler Concorde, photographed several hours after we pushed it from the garage.

The Chrysler Concorde, photographed several hours after we pushed it from the garage.

My automotive machinist husband diagnoses the problem as a leaky fuel line or valve. A stream of gas drips up the driveway, ending in a puddle at the front of the garage. It is less than a cup, probably, but spilled across the flat concrete floor appears to be more.

The car has dripped fuel all the way from the grocery store several miles away where the problem began. It was there that I first sniffed gas and Randy dismissed the odor as coming from another vehicle. He lifted the hood then, claimed not to smell anything unusual. I claimed otherwise. Perhaps his answer was a white lie designed to reassure me.

When we finished grocery shopping and returned to our car, the stench of gas still permeated the interior, intensifying when the engine fired up. We rolled down windows, expecting the gas odor to dissipate. The smell only worsened as we headed toward home. I could taste gasoline. I felt a bit off-kilter, as if the fumes were getting to me.

When we finally turned into the driveway, I relaxed. But then, once inside the garage, I noticed “smoke” rising from beneath the hood and my instincts kicked in.

Get the car. Out of the garage. Now.

NOTE: If my husband was to share this story, he’d likely present a less dramatic version with no fear or threat of fire involved. The car has now been repaired, the problem being a disconnected fuel line. The line was apparently not properly latched into place the last time Randy worked on the vehicle.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “Do we need to call the fire department?”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Oops……your mechanic had a bad day, I guess. Glad all is well and that no one was hurt. Other than your racing heart and elevated blood pressure. And yes—I am sure his version is much different.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      We’re just thankful nothing more happened and that the problem was solved without too much time and effort. We had been contemplating a day trip out of town on the Saturday afternoon this happened and were glad we changed our minds. Otherwise we likely would have been stranded somewhere and would have faced a towing bill too.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Goodness! You had MY adrenalin going in that one!!!!!! Your actions/thoughts mirrored what I would have had in the ‘heat’ of the moment! You probably could have lifted the car up and moved it during the height of the episode!!! LOL! Glad all turned out fine. We won’t even talk about Randy’s version! Hugs………

  3. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    Cars have evil intent upon humans and their pocketbooks.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Ah, but the evil intent pays the bills in our family given my husband works as an automotive machinist, not to be confused with an auto mechanic. He has saved us a lot of money over the years because he typically can fix whatever problems our vehicles may develop.

      However, I did suggest to him last night that life might be better if we still relied on horse power, and I’m not talking motors. We decided he would have been a farrier if you were to translate his current job to back-in-the-day.

  4. Gas leak in the garage can be potentially combustible too – at least seep from the garage into the house. I went out and bought some kitty litter to help soak it up. I had this happen and if the furnance would have kicked on who knows what could have been the outcome – my hubbie spilled a good amount of gas filling the snow blower. Scary – glad you are safe!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, these things happen whether gassing up the snowblower, the lawnmower… Caution is required, that’s for sure, when any amount of gas spills.

  5. Glad that all was well! I sure dislike it when cars don’t obey our rules.

  6. It sounds very scary. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to push the car out after seeing my neighbor’s car catch fire years ago.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      That’s kind of the scary part. I did not even think about the danger to either of us until later. Foolish, I know. I was just thinking, at the time, about our garage and our house.

  7. I think I would have pushed the car out, too, without thinking beyond “save the house! save the other car!” Glad you’re all okay. I hate the smell of gasoline.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I hate the smell of gas, too. The other interesting part I did not mention is the photo I had just seen in our local daily newspaper of a car fire in Faribault only days earlier. That image flashed through my mind also.

  8. Jackie Says:

    Scary…Glad you are both ok and the car was an easy fix!

  9. hotlyspiced Says:

    I would have been terrified. This is not a good situation and it could have been so much worse. Your guardian angels have been working overtime xx

  10. Allan Landman Says:

    If you do get a horse, what kind? An “oatsmobile”?

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