COLUMBUS — Columbus firefighters were called to the scene around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.

I was inside The Telegram office, minding my own business, editing a Scotus Central Catholic wrestling story.

The address that came over the scanner was close-by — Central Parts and Machine Inc. at 12th Street and 28th Avenue — so it was certainly worth stepping outside to take a look.

Then one of our circulation employees came bursting into the room. I could already smell the smoke coming from just outside our south entrance.

"Is that my car on fire?" I calmly asked, having recently returned from a trip to Casey's for a LiveWire Mountain Dew, my go-to early morning energy booster.

He was more frantic in his response. Apparently the sight of a fully engulfed vehicle was enough to excite the newspaper carriers gathered out back.

Sure enough, the 2002 Chevrolet Impala with the pink pinstripes down each side — courtesy of a high school buddy who thought it'd be a nice addition while I was away playing golf — was up in flames.

I mean really burning. Turns out cars are extremely flammable.

The firefighters told the onlookers to take a few steps back just as another loud bang sent a small piece of metal sailing toward the crowd. It landed with a clang in the back parking lot.

Then, as quickly as it started, a good dousing from the fire department's tanker truck turned the flames into a cloud of white smoke.

The firefighters hung around for several more minutes, ensuring my silver Chevrolet wouldn't cause any more mayhem, then packed up their equipment to head back to the station. Seven of them were gracious enough to suit up in single-digit temperatures to make sure my flaming Impala didn't burn down any buildings or harm those standing nearby.

I probably owe them dinner in the near future.

I was told I could fill out a form for insurance purposes, but liability coverage doesn't pay much for crispy sedans, and the local police were nice enough to let me keep the car along the street for awhile so a few more passersby could check it out.

I guess there's a good lesson to be learned from someone who planned to take his vehicle in for a checkup this week, for what he thought was a coolant leak. You best not put things off or they could come back to burn you.

Also, if your newspaper delivery was late Wednesday morning, I apologize. The same goes to my co-workers, who will be forced to sit inside an office that smells like a Texas barbecue pit for the next day or so.

And if you're a local car salesman, I'm looking for a good deal. Find me something that'll look good with pink pinstripes.

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