Clean-up continues after grass fire damages 34 vehicles in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Rachael D'Amore, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, July 9, 2018 2:34PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 9, 2018 7:14PM EDT
The clean-up continues in Niagara-on-the-Lake where dozens of cars caught fire in a grassy field over the weekend.
Firefighters were called to Niagara Stone Road at around 3:40 p.m. on Sunday where the Niagara Lavender Festival was being held. Event-goers told dispatchers that a fire had started in nearby field being used as a parking lot.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Fire Chief Rob Grimwood told CP24 that crews arrived eight minutes later to find at least seven vehicles “completely consumed” by “rapidly spreading” fire.
The blaze quickly spread to numerous other vehicles parked in the field, causing plumes of black smoke to drift high in the air.
By the time the fire was extinguished, a total of 34 vehicles had been impacted. Photos and video taken by the fire department in the aftermath show a line-up of burnt-out vehicles with charred exteriors.
So far, the damage has been pegged between $1.2 and $1.5 million. Representatives of the car owners' insurance companies were on site Monday assessing the extent of the damage.
Though a direct cause hasn’t been identified, Grimwood said a preliminary investigation has shown that the fire started underneath a single vehicle.
Previously, Grimwood said the department warned the event against using the field for parking because of the fire risk.
“We were able to obtain very early video taken by somebody in the parking lot that shows the fire starting as a small fire, contained under one single vehicle,” he said via phone on Monday.
“The hot exhaust or catalytic converter from the vehicle likely came into contact with the very, very dry straw in the field and started a fire underneath a vehicle which subsequently spread to (another) vehicle and spread along the ground.”
The Ministry of Environment and environmental services staff from the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake have been called to the area to address any environmental impact.
“The challenge with the vehicle fires are that as the vehicles catch fire, their fuel tanks and fuel lines burn through so we’ve had significant leaking of gasoline from all the different vehicles into the ground,” he said, adding that costs could climb if they determine remediation is needed.
A total of 40 firefighters and 11 fire trucks were required to get the blaze under control.
The Niagara Lavender Festival has not yet commented on the ordeal.
There was no word on whether charges, if any, would be laid.