A Juneau School District snow plow caught fire Monday morning in the parking lot of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, said a Capital City Fire/Rescue officer.
No injuries were reported, but the vehicle is likely a total loss, said Capital City Fire/Rescue fire marshal Dan Jager.
“It was a school district maintenance truck,” Jager said in a phone interview. “It started somewhere in the engine compartment, and we’re still figuring out what was the cause of it.”
The vehicle, a 2016 Ford F-350 Super Duty, was parked and shut off for roughly 20 minutes while the driver was inside the high school before onlookers saw flames from the engine compartment at approximately 9:30 a.m, Jager said.
“The driver wasn’t in the vehicle when the fire broke out, so there were no injuries, fortunately,” said Juneau School District’s chief of staff Kristin Bartlett in a phone interview. “He did try to put the fire out with the fire extinguisher, but he couldn’t so he called for assistance as soon as possible.”
The fire was too big for people in the area to suppress themselves, Jager said.
“We had a quick report from people. There was no damage to the building, but the tree next to it was scorched,” Jager said. “We had to use some water. Bystanders tried using extinguishers, but it was too big. There were some big flames when we showed up.”
The cause of the fire is unknown, but it is not considered suspicious at this time, Jager said. CCFR will be examining maintenance data to try and isolate a possible cause, Jager said.
“With engine fires, it could be a number of things. It could be a recall issue. It could be an electrical issues. We’re just trying to do our due diligence,” Jager said. “Its going to be a totaled vehicle. There was a lot of damage, and I don’t think they’ll be able to just replace the engine. Any time you get heat damage to the frame, it’s an issue.”
With the cause unknown, Jager said, they’ll try to run down possible causes.
“It wasn’t like it was an old vehicle. I’m still waiting to get the maintenance records, but it was pretty well maintained,” Jager said. “We’re just tracking down some of the possibilities and going from there.”
The loss of a snowplow is unhelpful, Bartlett said, especially with snow called for throughout the week.
“We have quite a few (plow trucks). They all get put to good use when it snows,” Bartlett said “We will have to make do with having one less for the week and it’s not a good week to have one less. We’ll work on getting a permanent replacement as soon as possible.”
Bartlett said whether insurance will cover the truck likely depends on the cause of the fire, which the investigation will hopefully determine. In the meantime, the JSD maintenance crews will shuffle vehicles or look at options for obtaining one for a short period of time in the interim, Bartlett said.
“I think the existing maintenance department would cover all of the properties and we’ll be able to rent or borrow one in the short term. The snowplows here in Juneau get a lot of use,” Bartlett said, “We’re happy that no one was injured and that there was no damage to the school property besides the vehicle.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.