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Test drive ends in flames

The Associated PressBob McKee of Lancaster (left) checks on the truck he planned to buy from a friend while Penn Valley firefighters made sure the engine fire was out.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

A Lancaster man got his hair singed Monday afternoon when the truck he was going to purchase from a friend caught on fire on Highway 20 near Penn Valley.

Bob McKee was driving the 1979 Chevy 3-plus-3 at 4:55 p.m. near Penn Valley Drive when the trouble started. He and his wife, Lisa, had just left the unnamed friend’s house in Grass Valley to drive the truck home when the transmission leaked enough oil to start a fire.

I went up the hill, and the transmission started smoking,” McKee said as he poured water from an Aquafina bottle over his heated- but-unharmed forearms.



Lisa McKee, who was following in the couple’s car, said she saw flames underneath the truck “It’s kind of scary,” she said.

When McKee saw flames in front of him, he pulled over to the side of Highway 20 and got out. A passing sheriff’s deputy told him not to open the hood, McKee said.




The deputy alerted the Penn Valley Fire District, which sent two fire engines and a water tender to put out the fire. An ambulance also responded.

McKee, a cross-country truck driver and mechanic, said he planned to transport the truck to Lancaster and repair it.

McKee called his friend, whom he declined to name.

“This truck is his pride and joy,” McKee said. “He and I and this truck go way, way, way, way back.”


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