Just as I left for work in the Kuj today, not even half a kilometer from my house and still inside our neighborhood, the air conditioner (under dash box unit) cut out and black smoke started pouring out from the dash. I stopped the car and cut the engine, but smoke continued to pour out and I could hear either the sound of something shorting out or the sound of plastic burning from the cable bundles under the steering column that are encapsulated by the dash. Then, through the hole where the original ignition was mounted (it’s now on the steering column like a modern car), I saw flames.
All I could think about was how much it was going to suck watching my car burn… There was nobody around, and no cars were passing by… I couldn’t put out the fire with the water I had in the car because I couldn’t get it directed under the dash…. I could call Nam to bring the big fire extinguisher from the house, but it would take a couple minutes and this fire wasn’t waiting for anybody…
Then I remembered I had a small fire extinguisher in the trunk. I got it out, popped the cap (it’s a little spray can type thing), pushed the spout into the aforementioned ignition hole and pushed down on the top. There was violent hissing as the fire was extinguished, and white steam started appearing with the black smoke. Within thirty seconds of directed bursts from the extinguisher, the fire was out, but there was still something shorting out so I got a ratchet set from the trunk, remembered the nut on the battery terminal as a #10 metric, and successfully pulled the positive battery cable.
The rest of the story is kind of anticlimactic… Nam went to call a mechanic, who came and identified the shorted wire and tied it off. The car was no worse for the wear appearance wise, and still drivable, so I took it to my pal Ot’s sound shop to fix everything (rewiring the lot, replacing broken air con parts/possibly replacing the compressor, replacing a broken brake light switch, isolating the problem air con wiring from the rest of the cable bundles). It should be ready tomorrow, after he determines whether he can make a new part for the old compressor (no spares to be had) or just replace it. I’m just happy nothing really bad happened and that I still have a fucking awesome ride.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS: BE PREPARED! AND ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES!
Nah seriously, that fire extinguisher saved my ass today, and it was an impulse purchase six months ago. I’ll carry one in every car I own for the rest of my life.