August 16, 2010 3:57:00 PM
A car caught fire while it was attached to the pump at a BP gas station in New Hope this morning, and the car''s unknown driver fled the scene.
Firefighters responded to the station, located at Highway 69 and Hughes Road, and put out the blaze in about half an hour, said Lowndes County Fire Coordinator Sammy Fondren.
"It burnt the whole front of the car up," Fondren said. "It melted and cracked the face of the pump, and the canopy sustained smoke and heat damage but was not warped."
The cause of the fire was undetermined, but Fondren speculated that elements under the hood could have overheated and ignited.
Marisa Brents lives near the gas station and was leaving for work when she noticed black smoke everywhere. She praised the fire department''s response.
"If they couldn''t have stopped the fire, it could have blown up," Brents said. "I''m overwhelmed at what they did. They put their lives on the line."
Fondren humbly noted the fire was isolated to the vehicle, and he said modern gas pumps have many safety precautions such as break-away components to keep the reservoirs from exploding.
"When you would watch a movie like ''Rambo,'' and there''d be gas spewing everywhere, those days are long gone," Fondren said. "They''ve made it about as safe as it can be."
Tasha Brooks, a cashier at the station, said that the person who was driving the car left during the fire. Law enforcement officials are still trying to ascertain who is the owner of the vehicle, as it did not have tags.