Car catches fire, explodes on Johnson Street

Fire damages building, vehicle

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Last night, a car parked at a Johnson Street house caught fire and caused a small explosion, damaging a nearby house. 

Acting Fire-Captain, Shawn Welbanks, told The Journal the department received reports of a vehicle that caught fire at around 9 p.m.

“The vehicle sustained quite a bit of damage, [and] the house on the outside [sustained] a little bit of damage,” he said. 

Welbanks said he cleared the residents to re-enter the house after the fire had been extinguished and the damages assessed. “No one was injured,”  he said. 

The vehicle’s owner declined to comment. 

Brandon Saltzman, ArtSci ’21, and the next-door neighbour of the damaged house, said he and his housemates were the first to notice the smoke. 

“We were checking it out to see if there were any major issues and we saw the smoke,” Saltzman told The Journal. “It didn’t seem like it was coming from the engine, so we just decided we would let the car sit overnight.”

Half an hour after Salztman and his housemates returned inside, someone knocked on their door and notified them of the growing smoke.

“We checked it out again and we saw a little fire behind the headlight, so we tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher,” he said. “It began to grow and then we called 911.” 

Courtney Martin, Artsci ’20, and a resident of the house was told to evacuate. 

“We heard banging on the doors and yelling,” she told The Journal over the phone. “They were yelling fire, get out.”

Martin grabbed her phone and her laptop, then ran out of the house barefoot. “I looked out and saw this huge flame,” she said. “It was probably more than 8 feet tall.” 

According to Martin, there was minimal damage to the house.

After extinguishing the flames, the fire fighters departed the scene.

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