'I absolutely love Eugene. It's the best place in the whole world'
EUGENE, Ore. - Laura Hellman watched her car go up in flames Thursday afternoon - and reflected on how much she likes Eugene.
"I love Eugene," she said as firefighters extinguished the smoking ruins of her 2007 Ford Focus. "I just moved here May 17 and I absolutely love Eugene. It's the best place in the whole world."
Why such jubilation in the face of loss?
Hellman said she smelled smoke as she drove on Coburg Road.
"All of a sudden I saw a little puff of smoke coming out of the hood," she recalled. "Then all of a sudden when I was stopped, it started to burst into flame. I grabbed my purse and got out of the car."
She remained calm at first.
"When I saw a flame, I said, 'That's it, I'm not going to be staying in here anymore. I'm done. I'm out of here'," Hellman said. "I was calm. When I got out of the car is when I got a little nervous. After a while I calmed down and I was able to laugh about it because - what can you do?"
Hellman said a state trooper and passersby came to her aid.
"This is the way Eugene is," Hellman said of the people who helped her as her car went up in flames. "They're kind, they're friendly, they're not New York or Midwest they're just - great!"
Asked if she needed more help now that her car was undriveable, she declined.
"My boyfriend is coming to pick me up," Hellman said. "Isn't that sweet?"