Southern California Firefighters - Ian Vorster Photography
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D072106_Car Explosion

D072106_Car Explosion

Firefighter Greg Franson had some trouble prying open the hood of the small pickup truck since the latch was only a smouldering lump of metal. Firefighter Jeff Schneider had his nozzle directed at the hood throughout the process before he could turn it on the melted engine. The vehicle exploded on Highway 1 about a mile north of Highway 101. The driver, Matt Zahuta, 16, only passed his driver's test today and was headed home to celebrate with his family. Having scored 100% on the test, he was driving up the steep Las Cruces grade with his surfboard in the back when the vehicle began laboring and apparently overheating. According to Zahuta, smoke then began pouring out of the dashboard and Zahuta pulled over and jumped out of the pickup. Shortly thereafter it burst into flame. Although shocked, the driver was miraculously unhurt. Santa Barbara County Fire Station 18 responded to the call, other than the safe outcome of this accident, their main concern was that the surrounding brush and hillsides did not catch alight. With a stiff breeze blowing toward Hollister Ranch this could have started a major brush fire in the warm weather. Ian Vorster / Staff 072106