Vehicle fire damages dealership building


Published: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 10:46 p.m.
An early morning vehicle fire outside a North Main Street car dealership spread to the building, causing several thousands dollars in damage Wednesday.
The blaze has left some at the business wondering if a problem with the vehicle, a Ford Expedition, wasn't the cause behind the fire.
The fire at Val-U Car, 1703 N. Main St., started under the hood of the sports utility vehicle that had been parked close to an overhang at the business. A cause for the fire has not been determined, said Fire Rescue spokeswoman Shawna Traub.
After the fire, however, Jim Indianos, the business' sales manager, said employees received calls and e-mails from people saying they had experienced similar problems regarding fires starting in Ford Expeditions as well as Ford F-150 trucks.
At first, Indianos said he considered that someone might have set the fire. But the vehicle had been locked. It didn't appear anyone had broken into it to set a fire, and the flames started under the hood, he said.
The SUV had just been serviced, cleaned, detailed and inspected, he said. The fire melted the SUV's hood and the intense heat damaged a nearby car.
Gainesville Police Investigator Marc Trahan noticed smoke in the area as he was heading home at about 2:30 a.m. and reported the fire, said police spokesman Sgt. Keith Kameg.
Flames spread to wood shingles covering the building's roof and roof decking, said Traub. Firefighters were able to stop the flames from spreading into the building. "Thirty minutes more and this place could have been cinders," said Indianos, who thanked firefighters for their work.
Damage to the vehicles and roof, including smoke damage, likely will tally more than $40,000, Indianos said.
The dealership was open for business Wednesday.
Lise Fisher can be reached at (352) 374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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