Vehicle Catches Fire, Spreads to Fort Smith Home

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A Fort Smith man is recovering after his car exploded in his garage, causing his home to catch on fire, according to police.

Chris Cross lost his car, his home and almost everything inside. Cross' neighbor, Gary Reichard, said he was mowing his yard Friday afternoon (April 5) when he heard the explosion.

"I looked up and I didn't see anything for a while and then I looked up and I saw that black smoke start coming up," Reichard said. "So I dropped what I was doing and took off running and came up here and [Cross] was there trying to get his car out of the garage."

Reichard helped get Cross, a quadriplegic, back in his wheelchair. That's when they said they saw his home caught fire.

"The house, I mean [the car] was up in there and by the time we got the car out I mean it already spread down and in and around the whole part of it but I was trying to get him out," Reichard said.

Cross said he smelled gas and saw vapors while he was backing out of his driveway. He said it startled him, so he tried to pull back into his garage. Cross said then he saw vapors. The next thing he knew Reichard was trying to help him get out of his car.

A gas leak from the car sparked the explosion, according to Battalion Chief Tommy Bishop.

"It's very probable that the ignition source was the water heater and or the furnace and that's where the fire actually took off into the structure and burned the upper portions of the house," Bishop explained.

Cross was taken to the hospital with a bad cut on his leg. He is expected to be okay. He said he and his wife Tammy are planning to say with his mom, who lives in town, for now.

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