Georgia journey delayed by fire

Published 5:05 pm Monday, January 15, 2007

By By Janet Little Cooper
What was intended as a quick restroom stop for a Mississippi man traveling to Newnan, Ga., turned into an overnight stay in a matter of minutes as his car erupted into flames.
Henry Vaughn was en route to his home in Georgia when he decided to stop at Exit 57 off Interstate 65 for a restroom stop at the Creek Indian Restaurant.
Vaughn parked his older model white Cadillac outside the restaurant's front doors and entered the facilities restroom.
Within minutes of Vaughn's entry into the building employees of the restaurant saw his car go up in flames.
"The man came in to the restroom and he asked about a possible room availability," restaurant owner Nancy Pittman said. "He came out and his car was on fire. It didn't take long."
Pittman said that at first glance, it looked as if smoke was coming from under the hood similar to when a vehicle is running hot, but within seconds flames were pouring out.
Dennis attempted to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher kept in the restaurant. With the flames at bay, Dennis and Vaughn were able to push the car away from the building leaving it out in the open of the parking lot.
"My husband, Dennis, used a fire extinguisher we had in the kitchen. He was able to put it out long enough to move it away from the building, but then the fire started again," Pittman said. "You could hear the windows busting out as it burned."
Vaughn, who was visibly shaken at the scene, said that he was not having any car trouble when he stopped at the restaurant.
"I had left Moss Point and was headed to Georgia," Vaughn said. "I decided to pull off here to go to the restroom and see if there were any room availabilities for the night. I have stopped here 100 times while traveling. I went in to the restroom and someone told me that my car was on fire."
Two firemen from Atmore Fire and Rescue Department as well as two trucks and numerous personnel from Poarch Fire Department showed up to extinguish the flames that consumed the car in its entirety.
As the fire personnel worked to douse the flames, Vaughn warned them of the presence of guns in the car.
Once the vehicle was secured and the fire was out, Vaughn along with police officers from Atmore and Poarch Police Departments began a salvage attempt of the car's contents.
Two handguns, two rifles and two smaller objects that appeared to be knifes or either clips for the handguns were retrieved along with a suitcase and one briefcase.
A search of Vaughn's license uncovered that he did not have a permit for any of the weapons found in his car, which is not required under law in the states of Mississippi or Georgia, where the driver was from.
"I'm pretty sure that I know what happened," Vaughn said. "This car leaks oil sometimes and I bet that it was leaking oil and it slapped up on the engine and caught fire."
Vaughn's vehicle was towed by David's Paint and Body Shop while he made arrangements to stay overnight at the Best Western until he could get family to come pick him up.

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