Truck fire damaged fuel pumps, canopy at Bojangles

Fire engulfs truck, fuel pumps and canopy over Bojangles restaurant in Blythewood on Saturday. | Barbara Ball

BLYTHEWOOD – “It wasn’t all bad,” businessman Larry Sharpe said on Saturday after a vehicle fire torched two diesel fuel pumps and the overhead canopy of the Blythewood Bojangles restaurant that he owns on Blythewood Road.

“No one was injured,” Sharpe said, with a grateful tone in his voice.

It all started Saturday about 5 p.m. when a 2017 Ford F350 truck burst into flames moments after it pulled up to the diesel fuel pump behind Bojangles.

Tim Mancini and his wife Libee had stopped off I-77 to refuel. They were returning home to New York after a trip to Georgia to pick up a utility trailer that they were towing behind their truck.

Mancini later told The Voice that he had replaced the truck’s defective oil filter early the morning they left for Georgia, but learned too late that the problem with the filter continued.

“When I got out of the truck at Bojangles,” Tim Mancini said, “I smelled fuel.  I opened the hood, saw fuel on the new filter, then got back in the truck and turned the ignition on to locate the leak. Gas instantly spewed into the air, first showering the engine, then igniting it,” Mancini said.

Mancini said that when his fire extinguisher had no effect on the blaze, two men helped him unhook and push the new trailer back from the truck.

Sharpe later praised his employees inside the restaurant for their quick, perhaps life-saving, actions.

“As soon as they learned what was happening, they immediately hit the emergency shut-off button to block fuel from escaping the underground fuel lines,” Sharpe said.

Flames and black smoke engulfed the truck within minutes, shooting into the air and burning the end of an overhead canopy.

Fire trucks were dispatched from the Crane Creek, Bear Creek and other surrounding stations.

Sharpe said he estimates the damage to the restaurant and fuel pumps to be about $150,000.

While Mancini’s truck was destroyed, he didn’t leave with any hard feelings toward Blythewood. Instead, he expressed his gratitude for the two strangers who helped him save the trailer. And he had praise for Sharpe as well.

“Larry took my wife over to the Dollar Store to get a pair of shoes – hers were burned up with the truck. And he put us up in the Comfort Inn for the night and insisted on paying the tab,” Mancini said. “The next morning, he took us to the U-Haul place to pick up a truck for our trip home. He didn’t have to do all that,” Mancini said, then paused. “You don’t find many people like that anymore.”

“When you write this story,” Mancini told The Voice reporter, “be sure you say something nice about Larry Sharpe.”