17 March 2016

Losses and Lessons: ’66 Ford Galaxie burns rubber – along with everything else

VEHICLE INVOLVED: 1966 Ford Galaxie 500

WHAT WENT WRONG: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and that isn’t a good thing when it comes to your classic. One winter day, the owner of a two-door 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 planned to work on his car, which was stored in a garage separated from his house. He started the building’s wood-burning stove and went back into the house to grab his cell phone. When he returned, the garage was filled with smoke, and flames were visible in the rear of the building. He attempted to put out the fire but realized it was too much to handle alone and ran back into the house, shouting to his wife to dial 9-1-1. By the time he returned to the garage, it was too late to save the car.

DAMAGE/LOSS: The Galaxie was a total loss. Because the owner had both Hagerty’s Guaranteed Value insurance and Cherished Salvage Coverage, he automatically received the Galaxie back in addition to the full agreed value payment.

LESSON: Never leave a fire unattended, even for a few minutes, when flammable materials are nearby. And if a fire starts in your home or garage, get your family and pets out safely before you consider removing a vehicle. In this case, the Galaxie owner’s smartest decision was to resist the temptation to save his car. Never run into a burning building for something that can be replaced; it isn’t worth injury or loss of life.

14 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Sean New Haven CT March 23, 2016 at 19:04
    Ummmm why didn't he call 911 on the cell phone he originally went back to the house to get?
  • 2
    edward violante glendale,az March 23, 2016 at 23:05
    Not certain,but that car may have had a vented gas cap.In that case combined with a fire..........I think they began non vented @1968;excluding California,which began earlier?
  • 3
    Dan Columbus OH March 24, 2016 at 08:57
    ...not to mention, never have a wood stove in your garage...
  • 4
    Dave New York March 24, 2016 at 09:27
    Make sure you have enough beer on hand to douse the flames
  • 5
    John P. Leseganich, CPEA Canfield, Ohio March 24, 2016 at 23:02
    Have to comment, share my own story. Let me begin by saying that I am a "Certified Occupational Safety and Health Consultant"; that's important to remember for this quick story...why...well, I live and breath safety. To continue: While working in my back workshop/garage on my 1965 VW "Sun-Roof" Beetle I was replacing some sheet metal. I just got done cutting out some old and cutting some new. Had to grind the new panel to shape so took it over to the bench grinder, did a little grinding, place it in its replacement spot, held it with some body magnets and sat back admiring my work. It was then I smelled something burning, thinking it was simply the grinding I smelled I then notice a one inch layer of smoke at the ceiling level. Being winter here in Ohio, I had the garage pretty well closed up and heated up. I quickly walked over to the bench to see what was burning. There on the shelf just above the bench was a "new" bag of steel wool glowing like a hot piece of coal and smoking like a chimney. I immediately grabbed it, well that "new" bag was plastic and the plastic was melting. Grabbing "Hot" glowing - melting plastic isn't the best idea....did I mention I'm a certified safety expert.....I grabbed it, lifted the garage door and through the glowing bag of steel wool outside onto the snow covered ground. Garage filled with smoke, lost all my heat; but hey, just think if I would have called it quits after the grinding, shut the lights off, closed the door and went inside. The garage is attached to my house, could have been much worst. It can happen to anyone, you get deep into your project and just forget the simple things such as wearing proper personal protective equipment, ensuring the surroundings are safe, no damage electrical cords, no gas can lying around, no open containers, keep it safe. Have a nice day.
  • 6
    Bob Pleasant Hill, Mo May 10, 2017 at 19:14
    In response to Dan- "shouldn't have a woodstove in the garage" any source of heat has its risks but many rewards come from a nicely equipped shop with a woodstove as its only source of heat.
  • 7
    Chris Pa May 10, 2017 at 20:20
    Yes why did he need to run back inside to dial 911. If that's the exact story, I would be sceptical. Maybe he didn't feel like fixing it anymore! So sorry for your loss if it truly was an accident.
  • 8
    Mickey Satkowski IN May 10, 2017 at 21:56
    What a jackass.
  • 9
    john burrows newark ohio May 10, 2017 at 22:11
    Thought i would share a story about your fot going to the floor.I was living in the Isle of Man off the coast of england. I had just had a new subframe installed in my 1967 mini cooper S.I left the garage and went for a test drive.The iom has a coast road going from the capital round the island to the other side.It follows the coast closely with sometimes a sheer cliff on one side and another sheer drop to the sea. Lots of twisty corners.I hadnt driven for a week and being 24yrs i used the minis front wheel drive to the maxium. At the other side of the island i decided to take motor cycle TT road over the mountain.It was a beautifull day and kept my foot down on the way up.Got to the top and started down and came to a straightway where the TT riders hit 200mph going down.I enjoyed the down hill, at the bottom was a corner, followed by a set of railway tracks, that only saw a vintage steam engine on them very occasionally.I had never seen one on track.As i got closer i saw one coming puffing smoke, i lifted off the gas pedal to watch it as i approached, then i realized that the train was gonna get to the crossing about the same time i did, so i braked a little bit, but my foot went to the floor despite repeated pumping.I couldnt go left or right because of the stone walls that line most of the mountain circuit.I grabbed the emergency brake between the seats and heaved on it.Nothing happened so i looked down to see road rushing past below.I had ripped the brake handle and mounting right out of the floor.All i had was a handle and two wire cables going to the rear in my hand.Another look confirmed we would get there at the same time.Then i noticed the stone wall on my side stopped about 15 feet before the tracks ( no gate).I was still moving fast but that was my only chance, just as i came to the gap i turned into it. The minis famous roadhandling with front wheel drive got me in and i bounced along in the rocky field alongside the track,( big bounces).The tourists in the 3 coaches looked at me in amazement as i followed along with them, keeping up. Finally i started to slow down and stopped in the middle of the field. And watched the passengers on the rear carriage hanging out the windows as the train puffed away across the side of the mountain.When my heart slowed down i put the car in first gear and kept it there the rest of the way down and came into town on the road that led towards the garage.It was halfway down a steep hill that stopped just before the beach.I could see the owners car parked out front so i used his back bumper to bring me to a stop.They had connected the brake lines and tightened them by hand but forgot to put a wrench on them. The garage paid for all the damage on the front of the car and under the car and welded the handbrake back in.Dont know what he did with the damage to the rear of his car. A week later i found a mini in a junkyard with the interior stripped out.I straddled the brake handle and heaved,even with two hands and my legs braced i couldnt pull it out of the floor.!!.I AM 71 yrs old now but i wont ever forget that ride.
  • 10
    Daren M Stone CA May 11, 2017 at 13:19
    I'll weigh in with my "lucky" fire story; Was in the back of my P1800 coupe tacking a brace inside the rear quarter panel. At the time the Volvo's original upholstery was in decent shape so I tossed an old bath towel over the rear seat back to prevent damage from sparks. I'd just finished making a respectable repair and was shutting down the welder when I turned and saw a thick plume of acrid smoke filling up the car. A stray spark had started the towel smoldering, which then caught the upholstery on fire. Since I was outside the shop I reasoned it would take longer to get the extinguisher so I whipped off my shirt and did the frantic dance of many bad words. I successfully got it put out, but not before it destroyed the headliner, visors, seat belts and my pride. The Volvo now has all new interior and I have a proper welding blanket.
  • 11
    Thom Boston May 11, 2017 at 09:48
    Griot's used to sell fire extinguishers that hung from the ceiling with a heat actuated sprinkler head but I no longer see them. Is there some new type of fire extinguishing system that is approved for garages? A regular sprinkler system is required (International Building Code) in some states for all new houses, but if a sprinkler head ever goes off when no one is around the water damage is also catastrophic. Hagerty. . . any recommendations?
  • 12
    MikeT-MYC NY May 11, 2017 at 10:34
    I disagree: the guy should have saved the car first. The story says this garage was separate from the house (like mine). Therefore, there was no danger of loss of life.
  • 13
    Jack Weiszer Portage, Mi May 17, 2017 at 13:35
    I recently replaced the coil on my body-off restored 1960 Corvette. When I hooked the battery back up, the wire from the Ignition switch to the coil immediately began to smoke and burned off the insulation. We un-hooked the battery, and things died down. It got me to thinking about the 2 ABC fire extinguishers that I carry in the car and another on the wall of the garage, and the white residue that they leave when they are used. So I went shopping and found a small fire extinguisher that looks good so far, the First Alert Tundra. They are about the size of a can of hair spray, they spray 4 times longer than other fire extinguishers, and YouTube videos show no white residue as with the ABC units. They are aerosols and really inexpensive. I bought 2 for the Corvette and 1 for for the kitchen. We are still trying to determine the cause of the problem.
  • 14
    jack ca May 17, 2017 at 05:06
    When ever I weld or grind in my shop I never leave the area for at least one half of a hour for any reason. At the end of my shop time I also wait around drinking a soda or something just to be safe making sure I turned everything off and looking for fire.

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