A Conyers man is lucky to be alive after leaking gasoline exploded into a blazing inferno that destroyed his garage and nine cars off Oglesby Bridge Road.
James Young was working in the garage at the back of his house around 8:30 a.m. The morning was cold and he had lit a wood-fire stove to keep warm in the garage. He was in the process of taking a Chevy minivan off a lift when something caught.
A hole formed in the tank and gasoline began leaking onto the ground.
"I started getting buckets trying to get the gas, it was pouring out. It was everywhere, it was all over the floor," said Young.
He filled up two buckets and was pushing another pan under the tank when it happened.
With a roar, the gas and vapors ignited as it made contact with the stove. And Young was in standing in the middle of it.
"All four walls were orange. I couldn’t see nothing. I guess I knew where the door was and headed in that direction, automatic."
He managed to escape only with the hairs on his his face singed.
He ran into the house where his wife, stepdaughter, who was home sick that day from Davis Middle School, and family friend were still sleeping.
The heat of the blaze was so intense they could feel it from inside the house.
They ran out into the front yard where neighbors found them and called 911. As they waited for firefighters, they heard explosion after explosion as more cars - and their gasoline tanks - caught on fire.
The column of orange flames and thick black smoke reached so high it could be seen above the treetops for a long distance around.
Firefighters got the fire under control and managed to prevent the fire from reaching the house.
Young's sister and attorney Mary said her brother had nine lives. "I'm just glad nobody's hurt and the house didn't burn down," she said.
They grew up in that house and their father had built that three-car garage.
The nine cars that burned up belonged to different people, friends and family, said Young. The owners had called mostly concerned for his welfare, said Young. Almost all the cars were burned to ashes. One truck was melted on one side but the owner was able to retrieve his work tools.
IN BRIEF: Rockdale County firefighters responded to a fire at 503 Oglesby Bridge Road around 8:39 a.m. Tuesday morning that destroyed a garage.
The garage was located in the back of the residence and was burned to the ground along with nine vehicles.
According to a Rockdale County Fire and Rescue spokesperson, the cause of the fire was determined to be gasoline vapors that came from a hole in a gasoline tank of a vehicle located in the garage that came in contact with a heat source.
The owner was at home at the time and called 911 about the fire. No injuries were reported
The nine cars reportedly belonged to different owners.