Numerous calls were made to Campus Safety and 911 last Friday, Nov. 15 after a campus car parked in the Lot G Olin Hall parking lot started on fire.
According to Carol Brewer, Director of Campus Safety, a call came into her office at 1:27 p.m. by a student who noticed the car and called first 911 and then Campus Safety.
Campus Safety Officer Scott Meyer responded to the call quickly and secured the area with the help of several Saint Peter police officers while local firefighters fought the flames.
The cause of the fire was determined to be mechanical, and only one additional vehicle parked nearby sustained damage. A tire on both the vehicles exploded due to the heat generated from the fire.
“I was on my way to class and saw a car on fire and a girl saying ‘help.’ We called 911 and Campus Safety. Campus Safety whipped in, did their best to put out the flames and then the Saint Peter Police and Fire Departments came. They got the fire out, but unfortunately the car next to it wasn’t so lucky. The fire department saved the day,” a student witness said.
The witness noted that another student had their car nearby and Campus Safety was able to remove the car from the area. The car was able to drive away with only some ash on it.
While car fires don’t happen often, it’s important to know the warning signs and what to do if it happens.
First, be sure to keep up with regular car maintenance. Some signs that you should have your car looked at include repeated blown fuses, spilled oil under the hood, oil or other fluid leaks, cracked or loose wiring, loud sounds from the exhaust system, quick changes in fuel level, oil level or your engine’s temperature. Additionally, missing the oil filler cap or having broken or loose hoses can put your car at risk.
If you smell smoke or see flames coming from your car, the most important thing to do is stay calm and act fast. If this happens, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that you find the closest safe place to stop and turn your car off. Get everyone out of the car without going back to get any personal items. Move at least one hundred feet way, and be sure bystanders do the same and call 911. Do not try to put the fire out yourself. Additionally, know that opening doors or the hood can make the fire worse because of the increased air supply.
Luckily, the Gustavus student whose car was up in flames got out safely and called for help before the incident turned dangerous for those in the area. With the help of emergency responders and quick-thinking students, the damage was minimized as much as possible.
“I’d like to especially thank the students who initially raised the alarm. This kind of thing is a rare occurrence at Gustavus, but it’s a good reminder that we should always be aware of our surroundings. Because of the quick thinking of our students and timely response of Officer Meyer and Saint Peter emergency services, we were able to minimize damage to surrounding vehicles and trees,” Brewer said.