Franklin County Commission Chair Noah Lockley, Jr. escaped injury Monday afternoon when the car he had been driving caught fire in downtown Apalachicola.

Just before 1 p.m., while headed towards Centennial Bank, Lockley said he heard a bang from the engine of the 1998 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight he was driving, and quickly parked near the corner of Commerce Street and Avenue E. in front of the Becasa clothing and gift shop.

As he walked towards the bank, he stopped to chat with County Commissioner Smokey Parrish and Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce Director John Solomon, who were talking in front of the chamber’s office across the street.

It was then Parrish noticed flames shooting from underneath the vehicle, which is owned by Lockley’s father. Within minutes huge billows of pungent gray smoke were pouring from the vehicle, and members of the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department were quickly on the scene.

Chief George Watkins, Lt. Rhett Butler, Capt. Ginger Creamer, and firefighters Adam Joseph, Albert Floyd and Troy Segree all helped put out the blaze within about a half-hour.

Smoke continued to pour from the vehicle even after the flames were put out, and after the hood was opened with the help of crowbars and a saw, Creamer soaked the engine compartment while another firefighter cut any loose wires.