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Thursday, April 28, 2016 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 141 Issue 17

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8/27/2014 2:00:00 PM
Damariscotta Fireman Grateful to be Alive After Demolition Derby Fire

By Paula Roberts

Jonathan Snell's demolition derby car exploded into flames at Windsor Fair on Sunday. Windsor fire fighters are pictured extinquishing the flames (Photo courtesy Jon Snell)
Jonathan Snell's demolition derby car exploded into flames at Windsor Fair on Sunday. Windsor fire fighters are pictured extinquishing the flames (Photo courtesy Jon Snell)
 
Damariscotta firefighter Jonathan Snell said he is grateful to be alive after the vehicle he was driving in the demolition derby Sunday night, Aug. 23 at Windsor Fair caught fire and exploded into a fireball.

He bought the 1995 Buick station wagon at the charity auction before the race. "It was already built for me," Snell said of the glass being removed and other safety features in place.

"It was only supposed to have 3 gallons of fuel in it, but it had more gas than that. I got too many hits to the back and broke the gas line. The gas sprayed out and left a whole trail behind me and under the car. One of the other vehicles went over the trail of gas and ignited it. The fire followed the gas trail and went to my car. I could hear them yelling to stop. I turned my head and saw a big fireball coming at me," Snell said.

"I dove out the side window. I just slid out of the seat belt. I never unbuckled it. As I hit the ground I heard the whoosh as the tank exploded. I went back after the fire was out to get my Hagar's hat and (the seat belt) was still buckled," Snell said. Snell works at Hagar Enterprises Inc. in Damariscotta.

After he got out of the car, he stepped in gas and his boots were singed by the flames. "As I jumped over the barricade, I saw the fireball and the car exploded. I didn't have a lot of time, I only had about two seconds to get out. I knew from experience I had to get out quick. All I knew was if I couldn't get out I would have to lie down on the floor and wait for the fire department to put the fire out. It took them 25 to 30 seconds to put it out. I would have had smoke inhalation and burns," Snell said.

Snell feels extremely grateful to have escaped with just singed boots. And he is thankful for Windsor Fire and Rescue personnel who yelled for him to stop.

"I knew from experience with car fires with the Damariscotta Fire Department that things were going to get real bad really quick. I keep thinking what could have happened if I hadn't turned and looked. I am very lucky to have escaped that," Snell said.

"I was shaking for about an hour after it. It was the biggest fire they have ever had at the demolition derby," Snell said.

The demolition was Snell's second. He purchased an auction car in 2013 as well. He is already planning to buy an auction car next year and tackle the demolition derby again.




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