U student’s car goes up in flames

N-Car-Fire Colby Patterson
Firefighters extinguish a car fire in the pay lot next to the Business Building last Thursday morning. Photo by Brent Uberty.

Firefighters extinguish a car fire in the pay lot next to the Business Building last Thursday morning. Photo by Brent Uberty.

At the U, where there is smoke, there may be a car fire.

Brittany Eastman, a pre-business student, learned this lesson Thursday when her car, a Ford Taurus, spontaneously went up in flames near 11 a.m. The Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to the incident on 1655 East Central Campus Drive in a parking lot by the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building.

Jasen Asay, SLCFD public relations officer, said responding crews found the front end of the car in flames when they arrived at the scene. They extinguished the fire within 10 minutes, Asay said, before turning the case over to U Police and the state fire marshal’s office. The specific cause of the car fire is unknown.

“A lot of times there’s some kind of mechanical or electrical issue with the vehicle that the owner doesn’t know about,” Asay said. “They drive the car, and this issue turns into a small fire that spreads.”

He said vehicle fires are not “super common” but do happen on occasion at the U’s campus.

U Police Sgt. Mike Richards said there was nothing suspicious about the car fire and suspects it was caused by a mechanical malfunction. Officers estimate $1,000 in damage to Eastman’s car. Richards said the fire also damaged a nearby car because of the size of the flames but did not have a price associated with that damage.

There are no reported injuries, and Eastman was not present at the time of the incident. Asay said vehicle fires like this are preventable.

“We encourage people to make sure that their car is taken in for its annual maintenance by a professional,” Asay said.

c.tanner@chronicle.utah.edu

@CourtneyLTanner