Having escaped the car just moments earlier, Pat Ash stood shuddering and in shock Tuesday as she watched flames engulf her Jeep Wrangler in a rural driveway.
“It was red,” she said, staring at the charred black remains. “It had new tires. I could hear each one of them pop.”
Ash was delivering mail to the Stan and Donna May home at 1858 170th Rd., southwest of Marion, when she noticed an odor of “burning plastic” as she backed the Jeep into the driveway.
Suddenly, smoke billowed from underneath the hood.
“I bailed out,” Ash said. “I left my phone and my wallet.”
She quickly dismissed thoughts of retrieving them when flames developed.
She called Marion postmaster Lori Kelsey using the phone of a passing motorist; Kelsey called 911, then drove to the scene.
A Marion fire truck arrived within 10 minutes, but the Jeep was beyond saving. Two more trucks arrived, and firefighters worked more than 30 minutes to extinguish a blaze that repeatedly re-ignited.
Ash passed the driveway to back into it, and said she later saw a wide trail of fluid where she had driven.
It was unknown Tuesday whether the fluid came from the Jeep or what source of ignition for the fire was.