Eight vehicles damaged by fire in 24 hours in Harford

Six vehicles awaiting sale on the lot of the Bel Air Auto Auction were damaged in an early morning fire Wednesday, fire investigators said.
Six vehicles awaiting sale on the lot of the Bel Air Auto Auction were damaged in an early morning fire Wednesday, fire investigators said. (Photo courtesy of Rick Davis, Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Six vehicles set to be auctioned off at the Bel Air Auto Auction were damaged by fire early Wednesday morning, the Office of the State Fire Marshal said.

They were among eight vehicle fires in the Bel Air area in less than 24 hours Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company.


The Auto Auction incident, reported at 3:08 a.m., started in a 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup in a pre-auction lot and extended to five adjacent vehicles, according to a Fire Marshal's Office notice of investigation.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Rich Gardiner, spokesman for the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association and a member of the Bel Air fire company, said Wednesday the Auto Auction fires and the other two incidents were "mechanical in nature."

The first vehicle fire took place at the intersection of Route 24 (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway) and Boulton Street around noon Tuesday; the last incident happened around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Forest Hill, in the 2200 block of Historic Drive, Gardiner said.

The loss from the Auto Auction fire is estimated at $90,000. The auction is on the east side of Bel Air in the 800 block of Belair Road.

Eight firefighters from the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company spent about 10 minutes controlling the fire, which was reported by a neighbor behind the lot, according to the Fire Marshal's Office.

Rick Davis, first assistant chief with the fire company, said Wednesday that a neighbor of the Auto Auction heard a "loud explosion," saw the fire and called 911.

"By the time I got there, it was already into the five adjacent cars," said Davis, who took photos of the blaze that were posted on the fire company's Facebook page. "The one in the center was fully involved."

Davis said no one was injured in any of the three incidents – the six cars at the Auto Auction were on the auction lot, and the other two vehicles were moving.

The drivers of both vehicles saw smoke coming from under their hoods, pulled over and called 911.

Davis urged vehicle owners to make sure their oil and engine fluids are topped off, because a low oil level can cause an engine to overheat.

Gardiner also encouraged drivers whose vehicles catch fire to pull over and get themselves and any passengers out as quickly as possible, then call 911, stand back and wait for the fire department.

He said drivers should not worry about any valuables still in the car.

"They can get anything else that's inside that vehicle – except their life – back," Gardiner said.

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