Close call for Stratford man and daughter after truck catches fire

A Stratford man got his daughter to safety on Saturday before flames engulfed his truck.

Michael Vos says it only took a minute before his truck was engulfed in flames

Michael Vos says when he saw the flames he grabbed his daughter out of the back seat and ran her inside the restaurant. (Submitted by Michael Vos)

It was a close call for a Stratford, P.E.I., man and his daughter when his truck burst into flames in a Wendy's parking lot on Saturday.

Michael Vos said he and his three-year-old daughter, Harper, were running errands and taking the pickup truck he had recently purchased for a drive when they stopped to get a snack at the Wendy's on University Avenue in Charlottetown.

Michael Vos says he and Harper are a little shaken up but doing well and he wants to thank the staff and customers at the restaurant for helping them. (Submitted by Michael Vos)

That's when he noticed a strange smell coming through the truck's vents.

Vos said he pulled the truck out of the drive-thru lane and jumped out to have a look. When he lifted the hood he saw flames rising from the engine.

"First instinct, of course, grabbed my daughter out of the back seat," Vos said. 

He took her inside the restaurant, where employees gave him a fire extinguisher to try to put out the blaze. But it was no more than a minute before the truck was engulfed in flames.

The fire destroyed most of the front-end of the truck and melted the windshield and engine hood. (Submitted by Michael Vos)

"I ran outside and I was going to try and put this fire out," he said. "But by the time I got out there the flames were probably four feet out of the engine, so I was quite nervous to go near it because I didn't know if it was going to explode.

"I couldn't believe how fast it happened. I didn't even have my daughter in the store for a minute and the truck wasn't saveable."

'A complete writeoff' 

Vos said he brought the 2007 Ford F-150 in December and it was only the second time he'd had it on the road. The car had been serviced and passed all its inspections and he said he's unsure what could have caused the fire.

"I would say it's a complete writeoff," Vos said. "It's sort of scary. I almost don't want to go look at it."

Vos says the fire department arrived on scene shortly after the fire started and put it out quickly. (Submitted by Michael Vos)

The fire destroyed most of the front-end of the truck, Vos said. He also lost a new set of tires, a new car seat and his house keys.

"The steel rims were melted, like the whole windshield was melted, and the engine bonnet was melted. The whole front is melted." 

He said he would like the fire department to do an investigation into what might have caused the fire to make sure something like this doesn't happen to anyone else. 

'Could have been a lot worse'

But Vos said the most important thing is that he and Harper made it out of the truck unharmed. While he's disappointed about his truck he's grateful she's safe.

"Luckily, she was OK. She was so calm because I guess she was scared and didn't know what was happening. You know, we were just going to get some french fries," he said.

The fire burned through the front seats of the truck and started creeping toward the back seats by the time fire crews arrived. (Submitted by Michael Vos)

Those french fries may have been the thing that prevented the situation from being much worse, Vos added.

"It could have been a lot worse because I was actually planning on getting gas across the street first but she wanted a snack. If I would have pulled into the Irving, it could have been a whole different story."

Grateful for support

Vos said he and Harper are a little shaken up, but doing well, thanks in large part to the support and kindness they received from a number of staff and customers at Wendy's.

Several employees sat with Harper, bringing her snacks and juice and trying to keep her calm, he said.

"It was great to see people reach out to help me when I needed it, like I wasn't asking for anything but it was very, very nice," Vos said.

Vos says he and Harper are a little shaken up, but are doing well. (Submitted by Michael Vos)

One customer even waited after his friends had left the restaurant to give Vos and his daughter a ride home. 

"Everybody else left, but he waited and he was insisting that we get a ride with him," Vos said. "It meant an awful lot to me just to get home. … I would like to thank him again." 

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About the Author

Brittany Spencer is a multi-platform journalist with CBC P.E.I. Email: