A vehicle being
serviced at Arnell Kia in Burns Harbor caught on fire late Wednesday and
quickly spread up the walls and into the ceiling of the garage, in a blaze
which prompted Fire Chief Bill Arney to call a second alarm.
The BHFD was
dispatched at 11:17 p.m., Arney told the Chesterton Tribune today,
and on firefighters’ arrival at the Kia
facility at 241 U.S. Highway 20--separate from the Arnell Chevrolet
facility--there was already heavy smoke in the building with flames coming
from the windows.
Assisting the BHFD
under a first alarm were the Porter, Chesterton, and Portage FDs. Thick
black smoke, however, which severely limited firefighters’
visibility--caused by burning oil and vehicle tires--as well as the sheer
size of the commercial building, led Arney to sound a second alarm,
mustering the Ogden Dunes, South Haven, Beverly Shores, and Union Township
usually generate more black smoke than regular structure fires,” Arney said.
around 1,500 gallons of water to douse the blaze, with three ladder trucks--BHFD’s,
CFD’s, and Portage FD’s--positioned
around the building for good coverage. Some overhaul was necessary to check
Arney has ruled the
fire accidental and investigators have determined the source to be a 2015
Kia SUV which was in the shop for rust proofing and shield coating. But the
specific cause itself--the fire appears to have begun not in the Kia’s
engine compartment but at its rear--remained undetermined this morning.
After starting in
the Kia, the fire extended to a nearby vehicle lift mechanism, ignited
various shop materials, then traveled up the building’s walls to the
ceiling, Arney said. The Kia itself was totaled, three other vehicles in the
shop showed paint and smoke damage, and the ceiling lights were melted in
the blaze. Overall the garage sustained “heavy” fire and smoke damage, Arney
said, and the adjoining showroom “light to moderate” smoke damage. Total
damage, very roughly estimated: “at least over $200,000.”
Arnell Kia was
closed today, Arney said. Arnell Chevrolet was open for business.
The BHFD cleared
the scene at 1:17 a.m.