WINSLOW — A Waterville man and his two sons escaped injury Monday afternoon after a sports utility vehicle caught fire on Clinton Avenue.

Peter Mendes said he was heading back toward Waterville after a joy ride with his two sons in his 2012 Jeep Compass when he smelled smoke.

“I started to smell smoke in the vehicle and I tried to find out where it was coming from,” Mendes said. “When I got on to Clinton Ave., it got a lot worse. It was like a fog color.”

Mendes pulled over on Clinton Avenue right before Cone Street, about 100 yards from the 107 Store.

“I got my son out and noticed the flames where the back gate is,” Mendes said. “My son called 911. I pulled over just in time.”

No one was injured in the fire.

Winslow Fire Department and police department responded to the scene at about 3:45 p.m. and doused the flames. About a dozen people had gathered on Clinton Avenue to watch as the smell of burned plastic lingered in the air.

Firefighters finished putting out the fire at about 4:15 p.m. The cause was unknown and is being investigated, according to Winslow Police Lt. Josh Veilleux. The Jeep was destroyed.

According to a consumer report, the Chrysler Group, the parent company of Jeep, issued a voluntary recall in 2012 on Jeep Compasses and Jeep Patriot SUVs of the same year, because of faulty fuel tank valves. The damaged rollover fuel valves may leak during collisions, increasing the risk of fire, however, Mendes’s car had not been in an accident.

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @jessescardina

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