Man was taking car for repairs when it burst into flames in Port

Owner of 2006 Lincoln Town Car says vehicle died, he pulled over and 'all I could do is get out'

Flames engulfed a 2006 Lincoln Town Car on Grand Avenue in Port Washington Tuesday. The owner of the vehicle said he was taking it to be repaired when it stalled, he pulled over and it caught fire. Photo by Christine Mueller
Ozaukee Press staff

Carl Schowalter said that when he pulled over on Grand Avenue in Port Washington shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday, he knew there was something wrong with the 2006 Lincoln Town Car he was driving to friend’s for repairs.

Schowalter said the car died, so he pulled to the side of the street and saw smoke coming from the engine compartment.

“I opened the hood and saw flames,” he said. “All I could do is get out. I was helpless.

“When I was trying to dial 911, I was shaking a little bit.”

At the same time, a Port ambulance returning from a call passed the scene, and the crew also reported the fire. They stopped and used an extinguisher they had in the ambulance to try and put out the fire to no avail, Port Washington Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said.

The car was engulfed by the time the fire department arrived.

“It was pretty much fully involved,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell initially said Schowalter had recently had the vehicle repaired, but Schowalter said he was on the way to have it fixed when the fire occurred.

Schowalter said his wife usually drives the car, but the night before it backfired as she was preparing to leave her office. He went out and started it, but they decided to leave the vehicle where it was.

On Tuesday, he drove his wife to work, then took her car, heading to get it repaired.

In hindsight, he said, “I have towing insurance, so I probably should have used that.”

Schowalter said the fire was the result of a mechanical issue, though because the car was a total loss the cause will likely never be determined.

“It was probably a fuel leak,” he said.

The Police Department closed Grand Avenue for about an hour while firefighters were on the scene, Mitchell said.

Firefighters used about 500 gallons of water on the fire, and with temperatures in the single digits, the Street Department was called out to salt the street before Grand Avenue was reopened.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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