Miss Molly trolley destroyed by flames

A+reporter+snaps+shots+of+the+remains+of+the+Miss+Molly+trolley+Friday+morning+after+it+spontaneously+combusted+just+hours+before.+Miss+Molly+caught+on+fire+moments+after+making+its+last+run+of+the+night+Thursday.

A reporter snaps shots of the remains of the Miss Molly trolley Friday morning after it spontaneously combusted just hours before. Miss Molly caught on fire moments after making its last run of the night Thursday.

A reporter snaps shots of the remains of the Miss Molly trolley Friday morning after it spontaneously combusted just hours before. Miss Molly caught on fire moments after making its last run of the night Thursday.

One of Mercer’s two student trolleys inexplicably burst into flames early Friday morning just moments after dropping off its final load of passengers at Greek Village.

The driver of the famed “Miss Molly” trolley was traveling north on Stadium Drive near the University Center around 3:30 a.m. when he noticed smoke coming from the vehicle’s rear engine. He immediately called 911, but the flames spread too quickly for the trolley to be salvaged.

No students were injured in the incident, and the driver escaped from the smoldering vehicle unscathed.

Chief Gary Collins with the Mercer Police department said officers arrived at the scene within five minutes to find Miss Molly almost totally destroyed.

“Miss Molly didn’t make it out alive. When we got there, the trolley was smoking and you could still see some flames. What damage the fire didn’t do,  the smoke and water did,” Collins said. “It was awful.”

NewTown Macon spokesman Hal Baskin said it appears the fire started in the trolley’s rear engine, but that the exact cause of the incident won’t be known until insurance inspectors can conduct a full investigation next week. NewTown owns and operates the trolley service under a contract with the university.

“I would expect that this is an isolated incident and not a problematic issue that affects all trolleys,” Baskin said.

Baskin said NewTown has already begun making plans to replace Miss Molly with a new trolley but will continue to operate in the meantime with its other trolley, “Sweet Melissa.”

The student trolley service should continue as scheduled this week on Wednesday night, with Sweet Melissa being put into full rotation for the time being, Collins said.

“I’m just so grateful that no one was hurt. It could have been worse,” Collins said.

For more on this story, read this week’s Cluster, or check back in at www.mercercluster.com for updates.