Driver of burned truck is one lucky guy |

Driver of burned truck is one lucky guy

by Linda Hiller

Don Fowler is one lucky guy. The 61-year-old Ruhenstroth resident was at the Minden AM/PM late Friday afternoon, filling three containers in the back of his 1992 Chevy pickup, when a spark ignited gasoline fumes, sending flames over him like a wave.

“I pulled into the station and my wife went in to pay for the gas,” he said. “We had two plastic containers and I filled them and had the lids on and I had the hose in my third container, a 5-gallon metal can, and it exploded. It sounds weird, but the flames went over me like I was surfing, with the wave going over me.”

Fowler said that in the next few minutes, he and his wife scrambled to do something – anything.

“I actually put the hose back in the container and grabbed the two plastic gas cans that were on fire, but there were three cars behind me, and I didn’t want to endanger them. We started telling people to get back and then my wife yelled at me to get her purse out of the front seat.”

Did he do that?

“I did,” he said. “Then, a woman tried to give me a bucket of soap and water.”

East Fork firefighters put the fire out within 15 minutes.

n Gas station closed over the weekend. Through some miracle, the Fowlers escaped without so much as a singed hair. The AM/PM, owned by Ray May, wasn’t as lucky. The station was closed over the weekend to thoroughly survey the damages and make temporary repairs.

“Those two pumps where the fire was are gone with the wind,” May said. “I’ve been in business since 1961 or 1962, and we’ve had several little fires, but, thank goodness, none like this.”

May said the ATM located at the pumps was also destroyed, and the timing on getting things back to normal will depend on when new pumps can be located and delivered.

The canopy over the gas pumps was just smoke-damaged, May said. Warnings about not smoking, turning off your engine and static electricity are posted on each gas pump, he said.

“We’ve had these warnings on since day one,” he said. “I think people get so used to them, they don’t see them any more.”

n After the fire. Fowler said he was filling up gas cans to be used in a big weekend of rototilling, lawnmowing and spring yardwork.

Since his Chevy was totalled by the fire, he said he wasn’t sure what kind of replacement truck he’d get.

“I haven’t heard for sure whether it was the static from the plastic liner that caused the fire,” he said. “The man who investigates for AM/PM said the same thing happened in Fallon one month ago, so maybe there’s a trend here.”

Fowler joked that living in Ruhenstroth without a truck has inspired some interesting travel options.

“My wife says she’s going to get a rickshaw, and I’m going to get rollerblades,” he said.

He added that he does feel like a lucky man.

“He was looking down on me,” Fowler said. “At least I didn’t go out in a blaze of glory this time.”