On Monday, August 14 at around 10:00 p.m., the Strathmore Fire Department (SFD) was on scene at a car fire that broke out in the Strathmore Walmart's parking lot.

Deputy Chief Eric Alexander said the SFD was able to respond in eight minutes, and the quick response time fortunately prevented the damage from getting out of control.

"There was one car that was fully engulfed in fire and the second vehicle had just started on fire due to exposure from that first vehicle. So once crews were on scene, they got their fire hoses out to knock the fire down quickly. I'd say it was probably under 5 minutes and both vehicles were fully extinguished," he said.

While the fire didn't spread to a large degree, the damage is expected to be costly, as Alexander says the cars will most likely be complete write-offs due to the damage done to the motors, electrical components, and general damage to the bodies of the vehicle.

Alexander couldn't say what caused the fire, as the investigation is still ongoing, but he shared some tips on how to prevent accidents like this from happening.

  1. "One of the most important things is to have your vehicle serviced by a professional and trained mechanic on a fairly regular basis because they're going to be able to notice what the regular person can't notice. Whether it's cracked electrical stuff, a little bit of a fluid leak, that sort of thing."
  2. "Not transporting any dangerous goods inside your vehicle. So, if you have propane or gas that you need for your barbecues at home, make sure you're not leaving them in there for extended periods of time and make sure they're transported in appropriate containers."

While not a preventative measure, Alexander also stressed the importance of not leaving your children or pets in cars alone. Even if you're being responsible by opening windows and turning the A/C on, Alexander said it could still be dangerous, and at worst a matter of life or death.

"People do leave their pets and kids in the vehicle when they just run inside (a store) for 5 minutes and a scenario like this, that 5 minutes could turn very dangerous very quickly if there were pets or children in that vehicle that aren't able to get themselves out." 

Alexander added the response team was entirely volunteers, and their fast eight-minute response time highlights how hardworking and committed they are. After they received the call, they dropped what they were doing at home, went to the SFD building, changed into fire gear, and then drove to Walmart all in eight minutes.

"Our volunteers are definitely the backbone of our departments and without all of them, we wouldn't be able to do our job and keep the community safe."

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