Student car catches fire

Maya Amjadi/News Editor

Emergency crews arrived on Friday, Dec. 9 to put out the fire on senior Hannah Roethler’s car. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. (Karl Sadkowski photo)

Friday, Dec. 9, was routine as usual until minutes before school started when a red Ford Focus in the parking lot started smoking and burst into flames.

No one was injured in the shocking event, and the fire fighters arrived four minutes after they were called. The fire was put out before it could spread to other cars, but not before completely consuming the red vehicle.

Students witnessed senior Hannah Roethler emerging from the smoke, shaky but unharmed.

“When I went to get out of my car and I took the key out, all of a sudden smoke started spewing out of the sides of the hood,” Roethler said.

She got out of the car immediately, sensing danger. “And then, all of a sudden, flames just started shooting out, so I called 911,” Roethler said.

The fire fighters were able to put the fire out as soon as they arrived. They did not know Friday morning what caused the fire.

Battalion Chief of the Cedar Falls Fire Department Roger Stensland said that car parts are hard to determine. “You have to dig into some of the components, and that’s what we are going to do. From where we are at right now, we just know it started in the engine compartment and worked its way into the inside of the dash of the car,” Stensland said.

Stensland warned that fires can grow very quickly. “You see there how fast it went from when she first discovered it, to where we’re at right here.”

Stensland called the quick work of putting out the fire a “good response” from the fire department. “They are well trained at putting out car fires, and they did a nice job,” Stensland said.

Roethler had some perspective on the event later in the day. “I just didn’t know what to think right away, but now I’m just happy that I got out and that it didn’t start while I was driving. I’m alive, so it doesn’t really matter,” Roethler said.

She didn’t go back into the car to salvage anything. Her iPod and phone were already on her. Roethler said, “I lost my debit card and my work shoes, but those are replaceable.”

Friday night she planned to get all of her stuff out of the car that wasn’t ruined, and then take the car to the scrap-yard.

After this, Roethler will have one thing left to do. “Now we just have to find me a new car,” she said.

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