At around 5:15 pm, Portland Fire & Rescue was dispatched to reports of a vehicle on fire at the Shell gas station located at S.E. Cesar Chavez and Gladstone. A man stopped to get gas and was about to leave the station after filling up when he noticed smoke coming from the engine compartment of his van. He pulled the 1995 Mercury Villager van to the side of the gas station and called 9-1-1.
Firefighters from Portland Fire Station 25 (Woodstock) arrived within minutes and found that the van's hood latch had burned through preventing them from lifting the hood. Using about 50 gallons of water, firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the van. Within 20 minutes, the engine crew picked up their hoses and returned back into service for the next call.
Portland Fire & Rescue responds to hundreds of vehicle fires each year. Although most are easily contained, it is important to remember that motor vehicles are constructed with a variety of synthetic, and often flammable materials, that burn very hot. Gasoline and other flammable fluids are also present. Gasoline was a factor in tonight's incident because the fire burned through the van's fuel line, which fed the fire until firefighters could get the upper hand with hose lines.
Portland Fire & Rescue wants to take this opportunity to remind citizens that if the hood or dash on your vehicle begins smoking, pull over and turn off the engine. Move quickly away from a burning automobile and remain at a safe distance; then call 9-1-1. If there are visible flames in the engine compartment, do not raise the hood as it could flash over and cause you serious injury. Instead, wait for the fire department at a safe distance from your car.