Around 100 salvage cars went up in flames, but no one was injured in a Tuesday evening fire in Marion that officials said was not as severe as it appeared.
The Marion Fire Department responded to a call for a fire at Shrouts Towing, 1015 N. Horton Ave., at 5:16 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Acting Assistant Fire Chief Jordan Lamb said he saw the smoke from Fire Station 5.
“I left Station 5 and was heading down Kem Road when I saw the smoke,” Lamb said. “Actually I just pulled my phone out to dispatch and seen if they had any calls on it...Based on the smoke I knew it was bigger. It came in as multiple vehicles on fire.”
Lamb was the first on the scene and said there were about 10-20 vehicles on fire at the time he arrived.
The location presented a problem, as the fire was on the far northeast side of the salvage lot 100 feet off of the road, was fenced in and had electrical lines around three sides, according to Lamb.
Lamb said the fire was still growing, so he called for help extinguishing the fire.
The distance from the road necessitated what Lamb called an “extremely long” run of hose from the fire hydrant at the corner of Charles and Horton streets. Soon there were 50 cars on fire, he said.
The decision was made to switch from water to foam to more effectively control the fire, and Gas City Fire Department was called, as they have a truck equipped to deploy foam.
Then the hydrant failed.
“We were out of water and the fire was growing,” said Lamb.
Lamb said though he was not worried there was a bit of a helpless feeling waiting for further help to arrive.
“Obviously it’s a helpless situation because you can only do so much without water,” said Lamb. “It’s just a waiting game and the guys did a really good job of being patient as emotions start to run high.”
Marion Fire Department’s press release said Washington, Pleasant, Center, and Mill Township Fire Departments were requested to the scene to assist with water supply.
When the surrounding departments arrived, there were approximately 100 cars on fire.
With the help of the different departments and the use of an excavator that was on site at the Shrouts Towing property, firefighters were able to get the fire under control.
The press release said the fire was extinguished around 7:36 p.m. but units remained on the scene until 9:44 p.m.
Lamb said the scene looked worse than it actually was, noting that the cars that were burned were salvage cars and didn’t carry much value.
The press release said a total of 350 gallons of firefighting foam along with approximately 120,000 gallons of water had to be applied in the area to contain the fire.
No injuries were reported at the scene, and Fire Marshal Brad Myers confirmed there was no additional damage to any structures on or near the property.
The press release listed the cause of the fire as human error. Myers said that the heat source that caused the fire was the use of a power tool near an ignitable liquid.
Lamb said he was thankful for the help from all agencies involved.
“It was just a great group effort of multiple agencies coming together,” said Lamb. “And thank them, Mill, Washington, Center, Pleasant, Gas City for their help. We definitely couldn’t have done it without them…Just a great group effort with people you don’t always work together with on a consistent basis.”
Myers said there is not yet an official estimate on the cost of the damage done by the fire.