Flagler Beach’s highly anticipated Holiday Parade was going great – until a classic antique Jaguar caught fire on A1A just north of Moody Blvd. Things were still overall a fantastic success, dozens of creative parade floats and troupes got to show off their holiday spirit to the residents of Flagler County. And thanks to the quick response of the Flagler Beach Police Department and Fire Department, nobody was hurt in the fire.
The incident happened just south of North 4th Street on A1A, in front of FARO Beachside Eatery. The smoke from the fire rose well above the three-story building it happened in front of.
Things were going phenomenally with the parade for quite awhile. And that’s what message should be taken away from Saturday’s festivities, that Flagler Beach was host to an amazing showing of community and holiday spirit (stay tuned for an article which covers that more). Most of the vehicles and people had already walked through before disaster struck – it would’ve been truly saddening if the incident had knocked out most of the parade.
There was a sudden and noticeable pause almost an hour into the event. People started stepping out onto A1A looking north to get a better look. The event emcees then started filling people in on what’d happened, in what almost sounded like a joke at first. But it was clear to see from down the road, there was dark gray smoke billowing up from the road. There really was a car fire, people began to conclude. The hosts asked people not to walk toward the active emergency situation, but the masses still managed to assemble for a better look.
Luckily, the FBPD and FBFD had little issue getting to and extinguishing the fire. FBPD Chief Matt Doughney explained what happened: “Almost toward the end of the parade, an older model vehicle had a problem, maybe with oil. It caught on fire just south of 4th Street. Luckily the occupants got out, and we kept everybody back. The Fire Department came, and put out a fully engulfed vehicle fire right in the middle of the Holiday at the Beach Parade. [It] unfortunately ended the parade for public safety, but there were only four or five vehicles left. I’d rather end the parade the way that we did to ensure public safety than try to move it to an alternate roadway that was not protected by either law enforcement or volunteers.”
“When the initial call came through it was a vehicle smoking,” said FBFD Chief Bobby Pace. “It was flames visible, minor flames. The vehicle became fully engulfed, and […] we had our parade folks that were designated to the parade, we had crews backing coverage, also working out of Station 11, working with Flagler County Station 92. But these crews did an excellent job navigating through all these people. Because this car being central A1A with the hazards it presented, and the harm that could’ve come to folks, the possible structure involved…I’ve said this probably the third time over, I cannot give these fire crews enough credit. They did an excellent job.”
“No injuries!,” agreed Chief Doughney. “Everybody’s leaving, obviously a little disappointed that they didn’t get a chance to see the entirety of the parade, but it was about 95% done. In the grand scheme of things after all the problems we’ve had across the country and the state, the county and the city with Covid, trying to get back to some semblance of normalcy got cut a little short today.”