Fire engulfs car; 3 hurt

Three persons were hurt when a car that collided with another vehicle caught fire at the accident-prone intersection of Beach Road and Quartermaster Road shortly before noon yesterday.

Witnesses said the 18-year-old male driver of the black Mitsubishi Lancer did not suffer any burns as he managed to get out when smoke started coming out of the vehicle’s engine before it was engulfed in flames.

The teenager complained of pain in his right arm. He was treated at the Commonwealth Health Center and was later released.

The driver of the red Mazda 3 car that collided with the Lancer was a 43-year-old woman. Her passengers were her two children, ages 9 years old and a 1 year old.

The mother sustained a laceration behind her left ear and minor abrasions on her forearm. She was brought to CHC by an ambulance with her two children. The 9-year-old had minor injuries, while the infant had no injuries.

Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Derek Gersonde stated that DFEMS received a call from the Department of Public Safety 911 at 11:58am that a car was burning at the intersection of Quartermaster Road and Beach Road.

Firefighters and emergency medical technicians from DFEMS Garapan and Susupe fire stations arrived at the scene at 12:03pm.

DFEMS personnel came upon a car that was already engulfed in flames. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and placed it under control at 12:11pm.

Gersonde said the car that was on fire was involved in a collision with another car that was still at the scene.

Emergency medical technicians tended to the two injured drivers and the two children.

Gersonde said the 18-year-old driver, who was standing by the side of the road, stated that he was heading north when his car hit the other vehicle that had strayed into his lane.

The 18-year-old driver was brought to CHC by an ambulance.

The driver of the other car and her two children were also standing by the side of the road. She stated that she was heading out of Quartermaster Road and head south when the other car, which was heading north, hit their vehicle.

Gersonde said arson investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the car fire.

DPS spokesperson Jacqueline Rae Shepard said preliminary investigation showed that the Mitsubishi Lancer being driven by the 19-year-old male was heading north on Beach Road in the inner lane.

At the same time, an unidentified vehicle was traveling the same direction in the outer lane, while the red Mazda 3 was heading west on Quartermaster Road.

Shepard said when the unknown vehicle turned right onto Quartermaster, the Mazda 3 turned left onto Beach Road and collided head on with the Mitsubishi Lancer.

Shepard said that, according to the driver of the Mitsubishi Lancer, fire started under the hood of his car, then quickly spread throughout the vehicle.

“No citation for the accident has been issued yet as an investigation is currently underway,” Shepard said.

The accident caused heavy traffic along Beach Road and Chalan Pale Arnold Road for over two hours.

The DFEMS and DPS information officers had different descriptions of ages involved in the accident. DFEMS said the driver of the Mitsubishi Lancer is 18 years old, while the driver of the Mazda 3 is 43 years old and the children are 9 years old and 1 year old.

DPS, on the other hand, said the driver of the Lancer is 19 years old, while the driver of the Mazda 3 is 39 years old, and the children are a 10-year-old and an infant.

In February 2017, a car driven by a 19-year-old student caught fire on As Terlaje Hill near the Northern Marianas College. The student was not hurt as he managed to get out of the car on time.

In June 2017, a 19-year-old woman was killed when a car she was driving slammed into NMC’s retaining wall, then went straight toward the concrete traffic light pole at the eastern shoulder of Chalan Monsignor Guerrero Road and intersection of Tun Antonio Apa Road. The vehicle was engulfed in flames while the driver was trapped inside.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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