None of the animals were hurt by the fire, but the truck is a total loss.

ENCINITAS — A leak in a pickup truck owned by your Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) started with a few drops of gasoline and ended in a blaze that destroyed the vehicle. The fire occurred late Sunday near the shelter’s campus at 389 Requeza St.. Now shelter officials are asking the public for help.

The fire began during maintenance to determine the source of the gasoline leak. As the mechanic discovered where the leak was coming from, some of the gas dripped onto his pant legs. A spark ignited near his feet, starting his pants on fire. He stepped away from the truck to put out the fire on his pants. When he turned around the blaze had begun to engulf the truck.

RCHS President Jim Silveira says that the truck had recently undergone numerous repairs. “It was getting old. There were some fluid leaks. A problem with the ignition frequently left us with a dead battery. For the most part, they were normal repairs for a truck that had a lot of miles on it. They were all inconveniences, but nothing dangerous for our animals or staff members.”

The truck was a 2002 GMC with a crew cab and extended bed. Silveira says, “An animal shelter truck gets a lot of use. One day it might transport a litter of puppies or kittens. The next day it could be hauling hay in the morning and pulling a pet evacuation trailer into a fire zone in the afternoon. We were afraid that the truck was approaching its expiration date. Now there’s no question. We need to replace it.”

The replacement doesn’t need to be an exact match, but it does need the same capabilities. “If a person or a business has a used truck that they can donate, that would be terrific. If not, RCHS is accepting donations to buy a replacement. We rely on our shelter truck every day. So the sooner we can replace it, the better.”

For more information about how to donate a vehicle or to make a financial donation to help buy a truck visit Rancho Coastal Humane Society at 389 Requeza Street in Encinitas, call (760) 753-6413, or log on to sdpets.org.

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