Yes it was friday, 13th of March 2009.
As a morning routine, at 6.45 am, one of us, either me or my wife would send the kids, Huda & Amin to the bus-stop, located just outside Perdana Terraces, the community where our home is located. We would then wait for the school bus to arrive and once they are settled in the bus, we would drive home for the next agenda. For me, it would be feeding the fish. I have this small pond that I built myself – not that beautiful due to my novice craftmanship – but definitely self-satisfying.
That morning was different. While waiting for the school bus with the engine running, I smelled petrol. I switched off the ignition, went to the back of the car, examined the engine and immediately identified the problem. Fuel was leaking from a loose connection between the fuel hose and the carburettor. Mind you, for a 1968 VW beetle, the engine is at the back, and not under the front hood that we normally find in other cars. I unhooked the connection, examined the hose and hooked it back to the carburettor and said to my self, I’ll fix it when I got home. But then, I never got that chance as the engine caught fire about 100 m away.
I was “cool” and “in-control”, thinking of ways to put off the fire. But when I saw some people panicking, I immediately follow suit. Believe it or not, panic is contagious. Anyway, all praises to Allah, it was a lucky day for me as we found a fire extinguisher at the guard house. The fire was put off. Examining the burnt engine compartment, I noticed that fuel was still leaking from the hose, and quickly realized that the fuel pump was still running. The fire must have short-circuited the wires. I then quickly disconnected the battery and the problem was solved. Like other VW Beetle, the battery was installed under the rear passenger seat.
Few hours later, I called the mechanic, and got the car towed away and fixed. Later in the evening, as we were preparing to go to the airport for a family holiday in Sabah, the mechanic arrived, smiling while driving the everlasting Beetle. What an eventful day it was…
Lessons of the day:
1. Buy a couple of fire extinguishers, put one at home and one in each car. You’ll never regret that investment.
2. There is something called auto-ignition temperature. When this temperature is reached, materials will ignite by itself (auto-ignite). Many industrial fire and explosions were auto ignited.
3. In any situation, don’t panic. Think and act fast.