A Pennsylvania couple and their dog escaped from their 35-foot-long travel coach Tuesday afternoon on I-5 in Lathrop with only the clothes on their back as they watched their vehicle being totally engulfed in flames.
The driver, a retired middle school teacher, used his fire extinguisher in vain and then ran to the back of the coach to unhitch a Jeep they had in tow as their second vehicle and backed it away from the fire. They both stood along the freeway fence as they awaited Lathrop and Manteca city fire crews and the CHP to arrive.
Lathrop Fire Chief Gene Neeley stayed with the couple until he could see they had a place to stay for the night – in a hotel that would accept their aging dog.
Neeley credited Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal for finding a room at the Days’ Inn where they were given a discounted room for them and for their pet. He added that firefighters were able to recover the couple’s valuables from a fireproof safe that had been kept in the rear of the coach that included a wallet and a checkbook.