Truck catches fire in Cutler parking lot

Smoke from Monday's car fire. - Cordero Reid / UAF Student

Smoke from Monday’s car fire. – Cordero Reid / UAF Student

by John Moore

The Sun Star


At 1:30 p.m. last Monday, a Dodge truck caught fire in the Cutler Apartments parking lot. The front of the truck was destroyed by the fire and left debris and black burns across the ground of the parking lot.

University Police Department’s Deputy Chief Steve Goetz reported that UPD as well as University Fire Department worked together in what’s called an “agency assist” where the police on scene were responsible for the immediate safety of the people in the area while the fire department extinguished the blaze.

After the fire was put out, Assistant Fire Chief Ron Templeton said that the truck was heavily damaged and that the fire had “melted everything in there,” referring to the hood of the truck. The cause of the fire remains undetermined.

However, the car had been plugged in, started and ran for 10 to 15 minutes before the fire was discovered. Fire officials say most car fires are caused by improper wiring of block heaters and winterization packages, specifically being wired to not handle the wattage that will eventually go through them. In Fairbanks this is certainly common considering most have block heaters.

However, fires can also start simply by poor maintenance of the vehicle. In addition, most auto shops in the Fairbanks North-Star Borough will refuse to wire any car or truck with heating elements, such as a space heater or in-car heater, because of the high probability of material inside the vehicle catching on fire. This was common practice in previous years, but due to legal backlash from car insurance companies and customers alike, the practice was discarded.

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