An Aberdeen man is without an SUV after his brand new 2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport caught fire Friday afternoon when he drove it into a field to feed ducks at a pond on his property, fire investigators said.
Firefighters were called to the 1000 block of South Stepney Road around 1:17 p.m. for a report of a vehicle on fire, Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver J. Alkire said.
Draaco D. Aventura had driven the Jeep through a field and up to the marsh/mud area of a pond to feed ducks, Alkire said.
Alkire said the 4-wheel drive Jeep became stuck in the mud and, in an attempt to free it, Aventura revved the vehicle backward and forward. The hot engine came in contact with high grass, which in turn ignited a fire that spread to the Jeep's engine compartment, he said.
"He overestimated the abilities of his vehicle," said Alkire, who responded to the scene.
Some men mowing grass at a nearby church ran over to try to help Aventura put out the fire, according to Alkire, who said the men grabbed a bucket and used water from the pond to try to get the flames down.
"The flames kept going," Alkire said. "They said they thought the truck might explode, so they ran off and called the fire department."
Five firefighters from the Aberdeen Fire Department responded to the blaze, according to the Fire Marshal's Office's notice of investigation of the incident. It took them about five minutes to get the fire under control.
The engine compartment and front passenger compartment of the vehicle were burned, Alkire said, and the rest of the vehicle sustained extensive smoke, soot and water damage, making it a total loss.
The damage is estimated at $26,000, according to the Fire Marshal's Office, which noted Aventura purchased the Jeep three days ago.
"We've seen this in Cecil County; kids will go four wheeling out in the field and get stuck," Alkire said. "And we've seen it some in northern Harford County."
No injuries were reported to the ducks, Alkire added.
Aventura could not be reached through his home telephone for comment.