Friday, 31 March 2023

Driver escapes car fire Tuesday

Firefighters work to extinguish the fire that burned Bill Douville's Mercedes. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – A fire Tuesday totaled a car and burned a grassy area near Lampson Field, but the car's driver escaped injury.

The fire took place at Highland Springs Road and Rodello Road, and was called in at 11:17 a.m.

Bill Douville of Kelseyville, 77, was driving east along Highland Springs Road on his way to town when he said he noticed smoke and flames inside his 1973 Mercedes 450SL.

Douville slowed the vehicle, preparing to pull the car to the side of the road, when he saw huge flames emerging from the car's hood and under the dashboard.

Fearing for his life Douville pointed his red sports car toward a drainage ditch and then jumped out.


The car, now completely engulfed, rolled approximately 150 feet across the road surface before coming to a stop 30 feet off the road and nose first into the ditch, Douville said. An unknown passing motorist stopped long enough to place the original emergency call from his cell phone but left the scene shortly afterward.

Lakeport Fire Protection District sent an engine and a medic, which were on scene at 11:29 a.m.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the grass fire but about 20 additional minutes to control the vehicle fire. A tow truck came to pull the badly damaged Mercedes from the ditch shortly after noon.

Amazingly, Douville suffered no serious injuries. Responding to a comment about his bad luck, Douville said, "What do you mean bad luck? I'm alive aren't I?”

He added, “There's only two kinds of luck I have, good and better.”

Good luck was shared all around. If the sport car had traveled 60 feet further to the east it would have come to rest in an area of with dry grass reaching nearly 5 feet in height and located directly under telephone lines.

Quick work by the Lakeport Fire Protection District crew along with support from a Kelsey-Cobb Cal Fire engine prevented the fire from spreading to local farms.

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Luckily, the car didn't make it closer to an area of tall, dry weeds that could have resulted in a much larger fire. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

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