On a beautiful Thursday morning, mechanic Sam Parris drove in from Blue Ridge to his job at Disharoon Automotive in Dawsonville. Thats what he does every Monday through Thursday.
But, on this spring day, a late thunderstorm popped up, hurling a bolt of lightning first through a tree, then into a car sitting on the Disharoon lot, setting the vehicle instantly on fire.
Seeing that the fire extinguishers his co-workers were using had little effect, Parris knew he had to do something. He said the blaze was so hot it began melting a white truck next to the car and blew out its windshield.
Once I saw that, I jumped on the Bobcat and positioned the bucket so if the fuel tank exploded Id have some protection, said Parris. I hesitated for a second. You got to think and then reactif it exploded Id be trapped in the cage. But I saw I could go up through the roof so I wouldnt be trapped. If theres a fire in there, I could get out. You gotta have an escape route. Just moments after he moved the vehicle down a small embankment and away from the other vehicles, the fuel tank exploded. By this time, Dawson County firefighters were on the scene and quickly got the fire under control and extinguished. Parris combination of brains and bravery likely saved the 39 years old Disharoon shop. Owner David Disharoon said it was an explosion that just rattled the building. I was talking to a lady in the office when it happened, he said, and Im telling you what, it was like someone had set off 10 sticks of dynamite. It was really a jolt. Im really lucky to have Sam, Disharoon said. He probably saved the other cars and the structure from catching on fire. Reflecting on the event the following day, Disharoon said he and a female customer had been in the golf cart in almost the exact spot just a few minutes earlier, looking for wheels for her sons car. When I told my wife about it last night, she said I must be doing something right.