- "He [Doc] took the toy car and wound it up. / "You'll be in this," he said [to Marty]. "Now, on a signal, you'll take off down the street toward the cable, accelerating until you hit eighty-eight miles an hour..." / He released the toy car from one end of the model. It raced toward the strung wire. Picking up a stripped wire that was plugged into an AC outlet, he brought it towards the "lightning rod" nail [on the model courthouse]. / "Then," he continued, "lightning strikes, electrifying the cable, just in time to..." / With that, he touched the live wire to the nail. As the toy car's antenna snagged the cable, sparks flew, the car caught fire and sailed off the table top. Striking the drapes nearby, it rolled down them, spreading flames as it went. In a split second, the cheap curtains were a mass of flames and smoke. / Doc Brown rushed to the far end of the room, grabbed a fire extinguisher and had the blaze under control in less than a minute."
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 184)
A fire extinguisher was a piece of apparatus used for fighting a fire.
On November 7, 1955, Doc demonstrated to Marty McFly, with the aid of a large model of Hill Valley's Courthouse Square, his method of getting the DeLorean time machine to travel through time back to 1985.
Unfortunately, the demonstration went somewhat amiss when the windup toy car used to represent the DeLorean caught fire when Doc timed the 'lightning' with its intersection of the cable and caused an explosion on the model table. The burning car shot straight off the end of the table, rolled along the floor and towards a large cloth on the other side of the garage, setting it ablaze. Doc quickly grabbed the extinguisher and put the fire out.
In the ABC timeline 1971A, Biff Tannen's gang replaced the fluid in the fire extinguisher in school principal Stanford S. Strickland's office with an accelerant. In this timeline, Strickland was a member of the Hill Valley City Council and had opposed Biff's plans for Tannen Manor. Having received a box of cigars with a card that claimed to be from someone thanking him for standing up to Biff, Strickland lit one in his office at Hill Valley High School, and Biff took a photograph of him through the window. The cigar exploded in Strickland's face, and his office caught on fire. He tried to use the extinguisher to put the fire out, but the accelerant within naturally caused the blaze to get out of control. Although Strickland managed to safely evacuate all the teachers and students from the school, he was suspended pending the investigation after Biff sent the photograph he had taken to the authorities. Without Strickland present, Biff was able to get his mansion plans approved by the city.
In 1991, Doc was demonstrating to the time travel volunteers at the Institute of Future Technology how time travel worked, with the aid of a demonstration model and a miniature DeLorean. However, this went slightly awry when the model car ended up bursting into flames and shooting off the end of the table, where it landed, spinning around, on the floor. Fortunately, Doc had an extinguisher on standby and blasted the burning miniature DeLorean with it until the fire was out.
Behind the scenes
- George Gipe changed this scene slightly for the novelization (see Quote above), in which the burning toy car strikes and sets fire to a pair of curtains nearby rather than rolling along the floor and setting a large cloth alight as occurs on-screen.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future novelization
- Back to the Future: The Ride
- Back to the Future (IDW Publishing)