Waitsfield-Fayston and Warren firefighters battled fires in three cars parked at the top of the App Gap on Monday afternoon, June 13, starting shortly after 4 p.m. The fires destroyed three adjacent cars according to Waitsfield-Fayston Fire Department fire chief Tripp Johnson.
He said firefighters were on scene at 4:07 p.m. and found that a Land Rover was on fire and that fire had spread to two adjacent cars, one a Honda Element and the other undetermined, he said. The fire started in the engine compartment of the Land Rover, he said.
“Because the primary car, the Land Rover, had a lot of magnesium metal in it, it was a different type of a fire. With newer vehicles made out of magnesium metals, we’re dealing with a metal fire which is a lot harder to put out,” he said.
“Basically, we had to let the three cars burn out and we were able to use water to confine the fire to those three cars. We got lucky with the way the wind was blowing. All three cars were engulfed when we got there,” Johnson said.
Johnson said his department had some chemicals to battle the metal fire but worked with water to protect the hillside as well as other vehicles.
Route 17 was closed for an hour and a half, he said and hikers and others whose cars were parked at the top of the gap were unable to access or remove their cars until the scene was cleared.
“With a car fire, there can be a lot of explosions and the scene had to be controlled,” he said.
The owners of the cars that burned, Johnson said, were likely on the Long Trail and unaware that their cars had burned. The burned cars were towed away.
Johnson said the Waitsfield-Fayston firefighters returned to the fire station once the scene was secure, leaving around 8:30 p.m.