Vehicle Catches Fire in Campus Center Parking Lot

Two cars were burnt to a crisp in the fifth row of the Campus Center parking lot near the student union. A gold 2000 Chevy Impala started the fire and it spread to a 2013 G35 Infinity.  According to Deputy Chief of Police, Thomas Pascale, “the fire started at approximately 9:40am. At that time the police attempted to extinguish the fire with one ABC extinguisher. Once police realized the fire was growing, the local fire department was called. Upon arrival firemen used two apparatus to put out the fire.” Nobody was hurt.

Three additional vehicles experienced damage including a 2016 Elantra, 2016 Volkswagen, and a 2011 Hyundai with minor heat damage. In total five cars had damage and four out of the five owners of the vehicles have been notified. University Police is still searching for the owner of the 2011 Hyundai.

An anonymous witness explained, “The gold Chevy caught on fire and it spread to the silver car. Both cars were off so we don’t know what caused the fire. I could smell melted plastic, oil, gas, who knows what, and walked over to see.” Students and faculty began to gather and take pictures of the cooked interior. Safety cones were placed around the two crispy cars by 11:30am, however neighboring owners of cars concerningly took photos, ensuring they had proof of the distance between their car and the burnt ones.

Detective Mathew Bishop of University Police stated, “The fire was caused by a mechanical error, and is not suspicious.” However many who park on campus are concerned that the car fire may be related to a pattern of car fires on long island that have taken place over the last month. The night before the campus fire, ABC reported that two unidentified female bodies were found inside a burning car at Sears garage in Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream and considers it to be non criminal at this time. CBS reported March 17th, a person was found dead in a burning car at Jones Beach State Park. Officials do not have any leads in the investigations and is asking the public to call crime stoppers (1-800-244-TIPS). Alumni and community volunteer Laura Lemus said, “I am surprised University Police is not investigating the fire. I am not even sure if there are any cameras in the campus parking lot. Anything could have happened.”

The campus has not had a problem with fires since 2012 when about 200 firefighters from twenty-three departments battled a stubborn wildfire in a remote area of the SUNY Old Westbury campus just north of the Long Island Expressway. To ensure safety State Farm recommends that anyone who is involved in or sees a car fire to move far from the burning vehicle to avoid the flames and toxic fumes—at least 100 feet—and also keep bystanders back. Even after a fire is out, the area is still considered dangerous.