Monday, August 6, 2007

First 2008 Dodge Viper destroyed in dealership fire

Spilled gasoline ignites blaze that destroys car dealership

JONESBORO — An electrical work lamp knocked into a pool of spilled gasoline ignited a fire that destroyed a downtown car dealership Thursday morning, authorities said.

No one was injured, but several firefighters were treated for dehydration, Jonesboro Fire Chief Aaron Keller said.

The fire was reported at Cavenaugh Lincoln-Mercury at 300 W. Huntington Ave. at 10: 40 a. m.

Employees of the automobile dealership’s shop were repairing a fuel pump and had spilled gasoline from a car’s fuel tank. A worker accidentally tipped over a electric light that was on a stand into the gasoline, Keller said.

Witnesses told firefighters they heard several small explosions in the shop building. A rising column of black and dark brown smoke could be seen from the eastern edge of Jonesboro.

The workers ran from the shop safely, Keller said.

“It’s a miracle some of those workers weren’t hurt as fast as that fire was burning,” the fire chief said.

Because of the day’s heat and humidity, the gasoline fumes did not evaporate and instead added to the combustion.

The shop’s metal roof buckled and collapsed by noon, and the fire spread into an office area used by salesmen and to an older showroom. Firefighters were able to save a few cars inside a newer showroom, but the dealership is considered a total loss.

Several cars inside the old showroom, including a 2008 Dodge Viper, were destroyed, along with several customers ’ cars in the shop area, Keller said.

The dealership had been located downtown for over 40 years.

Two weeks ago, owners announced they would move the company to south Jonesboro where numerous other car dealerships are located.

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