Gas-Fired Heater Was Apparent Source Of Car Dealership Fire
Johnston Police release their report on the fire at Metro Collision Center that occurred Feb. 7.
A blaze that forced the evacuation of Metro Collision Center at 181 Putnam Pike apparently started in the natural gas-fired heating system for the car paint booth, according to the Johnston Police Department report on the fire, which was released Feb. 8.
The heater, according to the police report, is used to bake freshly-applied paint to the surface of cars inside what is known as a "paint hood."
Metro Collision employee Miguel Silva was working in the paint hood when the fire started. Silva told Johnston Police Patrolman Jared DeAngelis that he heard an unusual click before the heating system was turned on.
Silva said he then smelled natural gas in the booth and saw smoke coming from the heating vents in the ceiling. Silva said he then ran from the booth and warned the other workers, one of whom activated the facility's fire alarm.
According to DeAngelis, Silva said he used a fire extinguisher to try and extinguish the fire, but the flames were coming out of the vents on the ceiling. Silva then evacuated the building.
The Johnston Fire Department arrived and extinguished the fire. No injuries were reported. Smithfield rescue personnel examined two Johnston firefighters, who remained on the scene.
Johnston Building Inspector Benjamin Nascenzi and Fire Marshall Richard Matarese told DeAngelis that the fire started in the unit that provides heat to the paint hood. While they suggested that the likely cause of the fire was a malfunction in the blower motor, DeAngelis reported that further investigation is needed to confirm this.
The fire damaged the paint hood, the gas-powered furnace, and the car in the paint hood at the time of the fire, according to DeAngelis's report.