Kyle Jensen / The Record Firefighters examine the extent of the damage to the mail truck.

Mailman saves mail before scrambling from burning truck

A United States Postal Service truck burst into flames in Freeland on Wednesday, sending the driver scrambling to exit the vehicle and save what he could of the day’s mail.

The mailman, 73-year-old Goss Lake resident Sam Wolfe, wasn’t injured in the incident.

Wolfe was on his afternoon route on Mutiny Bay Road near Robinson Road just after 4 p.m. when he noticed smoke coming from underneath the hood. He pulled over and the smoke was quickly replaced by flames. Within minutes, the front portion of the vehicle was ablaze.

“I was just finishing up my 45-minute route, which is really one of my favorite routes with this nice view,” Wolfe said. “I turned around on Mutiny Bay Road on my way to a few mail boxes, and it just went up.”

Wolfe was able to grab one box of mail that he’d already picked up, which he sat holding on the side of the road while firefighters worked to douse the flames. Another box of undelivered mail was not so fortunate; a firefighter pulled the smoking container from the vehicle, but not before about one third of the contents was scorched or damaged.

“We saved what we could of the mail,” Fire Chief Rusty Palmer said. “The heaviest fire was in the dash and under the hood. We were able to put it out pretty quickly.”

Palmer suspects a fuel leak was to blame for the fire. A trail of gas could be seen on Mutiny Bay Road on the route Wolfe typically takes to deliver mail.

Wolfe said the truck had been running OK, but he had a funny feeling about how the day was unfolding.

“It’s honestly been a weird day,” said Wolfe, who was still holding the box while speaking to a South Whidbey Record reporter. “I’m just glad I managed to get everything I picked up today.”

Photo by Kyle Jensen / The South Whidbey Record South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Wendy Moffatt douses the flames in a mail truck in Freeland Wednesday. A fuel leak was suspected as the cause.

Kyle Jensen / The Record A firefighter pulls charred mail from the rear of the mail truck.

Kyle Jensen / The Record South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chiefs Wendy Moffatt and Jon Beck discuss the vehicle fire. The mail truck caught fire while on a regular delivery route.

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