Challis resident John VanAlfen was sound asleep in his Ninth Street home late the night of May 31 when an electrical fire melted wires under the hood of his pickup causing the horn to suddenly blare.

Once VanAlfen stuck his head out the window and saw what was happening, his first move was to get his classic Ford Bronco, which he called his “baby,” out of the way. Next, he grabbed his garden hose and tried to contain the fire.

North Custer Rural Fire Chief Larry Garey said it was an instance of bad luck. It could have been any number of things that caused a spark under the hood of the VanAlfen’s pickup, he said. Either way, Garey said VanAlfen’s quick action kept the damage from the fire to the cab and the metal carport where it was parked. The fire destroyed the cab, melting the plastic and burning the upholstery. All that was left were the metal frames of the seats and the steering wheel.

“People don’t realize how much plastic is in their vehicles,” Garey said.

Feeling numb in the aftermath of the surprise fire, VanAlfen said he’s thankful he has insurance. VanAlfen admitted that because he’s never had to file an insurance claim before on a burned vehicle, he’s unsure what the process will be like.

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