'Extremely intense': Crews smother car fire at County Office Building
Charlottesville firefighters used water and then foam to knock down what the Fire Chief calls an "extremely intense" Thursday morning car fire by the fuel pumps at the Albemarle County Office Building. "The fire involved gasoline, and the exact cause and circumstances are being investigated," says Chief Charles L. Werner, who sent around photographs of the situation.
2:48pm update: Although online commenters were wondering whether static electricity–- a common cause of wintertime sparks–- might have ignited the blaze, the City Fire Marshal has listed the probable cause as heat from the catalytic converter.
This info comes from Chief Werner who explains that the investigation revealed that the gasoline nozzle failed to automatically shut off and that fuel then spilled onto the ground and under the vehicle. That's when heat from the car's catalytic converter–- a pollution-control device typically operating above 300 degrees F–- ignited the gasoline or its fumes.
"It was not static electricity in this case," Werner says in an email.