ILWACO — At about 1:30 p.m. Thursday the Ilwaco Fire Department responded to a call that Fire Chief Tom Williams regarded as a first in his more than 40 years in the department.
It all began with a call that smoke was seen billowing from behind the maintenance shed at the Ilwaco High School football field. What transpired would eventually be dubbed by one fireman simply as “The lawnmower that wouldn’t die.”
The culprit was a diesel John Deere lawn tractor the maintenance crew had been working on earlier in the day.
“The lawnmower was broke down and they were working on changing out the fuel filter or fuel solenoid,” Williams said. “Once he got it on and wired up, he fired up the mower and it wouldn’t shut off.”
The battle between the Ilwaco Fire Department and the mower lasted about 15 minutes, but getting the engine to shut off wasn’t so easy. As smoke rolled off the tractor, the crew had to work through several remedies in a scenario in which there wasn’t necessarily a protocol to follow.
“We tried to pinch the fuel line but that didn’t do it,” Williams said. “Then we cut the battery cables and that wouldn’t do it.”
After a few minutes, they finally brought the engine to a stop.
The crew set up fans to blow any remaining smoke out of the building. No injuries were reported.
The mower, however, wasn’t so lucky.
Williams, who has been with the Ilwaco Fire Department since 1973, said this situation was a first.
“I’ve seen some lawnmowers burn before but not this,” he said.