A family is “lucky to be alive” after their lorry caught fire on the way back from Skipton Horse Trials on Sunday (26 June).
Faye Boyling, her parents Neil and Angela McDearmid and sister Sophie McDearmid were travelling back to Middlesbrough on the A19 on Sunday evening.
Sophie had competed in the BE100 at Skipton on their seven-year-old chestnut gelding, Chester. They were half an hour from home when Neil, who was driving, heard a loud bang.
Faye said: “We thought we’d had a tyre blow-out; the lorry lost steering and as we were stopping, hissing noises were coming from the engine.
“I jumped out and could smell burning. There was smoke coming from underneath the front of the lorry. I shouted that I thought it was going to go up in flames and that we needed to get everyone and Chester out.
“My Dad grabbed our small fire extinguisher and used it before trying with my mum to get the traffic to stop. Sophie called 999.
“I went straight to the ramp to get Chester out. Sophie met me in the back and we led him out.
“I took over on the phone and we held on to him as tight as we could while I struggled to explain where I thought we were to the 999 operator.
“Luckily, a lorry stopped and pulled across the carriageway to stop the traffic.”
Faye was concerned that the two gas canisters in the lorry would explode, and knew they needed to get themselves and Chester away from the lorry. They managed to get a bridle out of the lorry and Sophie’s riding hat, and hacked Chester half a mile to a lay-by, thinking it would be safer than leading him.
“The lorry went up in flames within five minutes of us managing to stop,” she said. “The police were there in 10 minutes and the fire brigade in half an hour. By that time the fire had completely taken over the cab and the living.”
The firefighters were able to save two saddles, but everything else in the lorry was lost.
“All the rugs, kit, clothing, equipment, boots, handbags etc went, as well as a lot of sentimental things, and the fittings in the living” said Faye.
A friend of the family, Aimee Wesson, brought her trailer and they took Chester home.
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“Chester was great. I could see he was terrified, and he was sweating and shaking, but he stood with us and behaved himself,” said Faye.
The fire brigade put the fire out but when the lorry, a 7.5-tonne Ford Iveco, was towed away later, it reignited and the fire brigade had to come out again.
Faye said: “They think the tyre blow-out caused the fuel pipe to split, which apparently is a common cause of lorry fires.
“I can’t believe how lucky we are. It was a very frightening experience.”