“There was pretty thick, heavy black smoke rolling out of the barn when we arrived,” said Capt. Brian Sipe of the Spring Lake Township Fire Department.
Firefighters were able to knock down the fire before it spread to the nearby walls of the building. Sipe said the fire was able to be contained because of early detection — and also because the hood of the car fell down, not allowing the blaze to spread up and onto the walls and rafters of the open building.
Chuck LeMaire said he was trying to get the car started so that it could be moved out of the way of some furniture that needed to be removed from the building. Those furnishings also were not damaged.
LeMaire said he had a work light hanging from the hood of the car and had spread towels around the body to keep it from getting scratched while he was working. He had gone into the house for some tools and came back to the pole barn “when I smelled something.”
LeMaire said he looked around the corner, saw that the Fiat's hood had fallen down and that flames were shooting out of the engine compartment. He immediately called 911 and his son, who lives just down the road. LeMaire said his son emptied a fire hydrant onto the flames just as firefighters were arriving.
Sipe said firefighters used a hose to finish putting out the fire.
LeMaire said he had purchased the car 8-9 years ago off eBay.
“It was perfectly rebuilt, too,” he said.
LeMaire said local resident Russ Pellegrom had done the restoration.
LeMaire added that the car was probably worth about $6,000 and that it was insured.
Sipe said the cause of the fire was being ruled as “accidental.” He said the work light from the hood likely made contact with one of the towels when the hood closed — possibly blown down by strong winds.