The driver of the Somers Post Office mail truck said it was his loyalty to the community and the United States Postal Service that pushed him to try to save whatever he could as his truck went up in flames on Monday, April 8.
Jonathan Jusino, 34, a Brewster resident, said he was still shaken up and smelled of smoke during a phone call the next day. He’s worked for the Somers Post Office for more than 15 years and was driving the route he’s held for six years when the engine of his mail truck caught fire on Warren Street.
“I just want to make everyone aware that I came out OK injury wise,” Jusino said during a phone call Tuesday, April 9. “It was stressful to be in that situation.”
Jonathan Mackey, assistant fire chief for the Somers Volunteer Fire Department, said firefighters could see the smoke billowing up on Warren Street at around 2 p.m. when approaching the truck, which was “well involved with fire.”
Jusino said he didn’t want to get into the details of what happened and was spending time with his wife and two young daughters after the incident. He suffered a burn to his hand when he went into the mail truck to save whatever he could.
“SVFD members quickly accounted for the driver and began extinguishing the fire while also assisting the driver with salvaging as much mail as possible,” Mackey said.
Somers received mutual aid from the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department.
Mackey said the cause of the fire is still under investigation but is “believed to have started in the engine compartment of the vehicle.”
The Somers postmaster declined to answer questions about the incident.
Mackey called Jusino’s effort to save mail a “valiant attempt.” All the mail and the truck were turned over to the USPS law enforcement, Mackey said.
“I can’t believe this happened,” Jusino said. “With everything going on, for it to be in Somers and me be in that situation is unreal.”
Jusino said it was probably not the smart thing to do to try to save the mail, but he wanted Somers residents to know that he was trying to “do right” for his job.
“I treat my customers like family, wearing my heart on my sleeve, and do what I’ve got to do to serve them, on that day, and help them any given time of day,” Jusino said.
He thanked the volunteer firefighters and ambulance crews and neighbors who came out during the fire to offer support. A resident of Warren Street helped him through the ordeal, he said, and brought out drinks for the emergency aid volunteers.
Jusino is also hoping the incident will raise awareness of the condition of post office vehicles.
“It can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, any vehicle,” Jusino said. “I want to bring awareness and hopefully open eyes (of the) government so they do see that we need better vehicles across districts,” Jusino said. “I have spent the last 16 years working for the USPS, loving what I do and I love my route.”