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Fire at auto auction was accidental; electric fence slowed firefighters

(KY3)
Published: May. 20, 2016 at 6:50 AM CDT
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News release from Springfield fire marshal Mark Epps, 4:20 p.m. Friday:

"After reviewing the surveillance video, the fire has been determined to be accidental. One of the vehicles had an unspecified electrical malfunction that caused the fire. The fire then spread to the other vehicles due to the fire department not being able to gain access to the lot due to the electrified security fence."

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Original story

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Fire destroyed 10 vehicles at 166 Auto Auction on West Sunshine Street early Friday. Firefighters were called to the business just after 4 a.m.

They found vehicles in flames. Small explosions could be heard. Firefighters say those were from tires popping. Investigators are trying to figure out what started the fire.

The business is on the south side of Sunshine (Missouri 413) between Scenic Avenue and West Bypass.

Firefighters couldn't get to the fire quickly. City Utilities of Springfield had to shut off power to an electrical fence so fire fighters could get to the cars. The fence is part of the reason that a fire marshal said the fire may have been accidental.

“It's a very secure facility, so it'd be very difficult for someone to get in here to do that. It's not uncommon for cars to have electrical problems and to malfunction and have fires, so that's where I'm leaning towards, but we want to take every precaution. We're going to look at that video before we make that determination,” said fire marshal Mark Epps.

Epps said he would review surveillance video to try to narrow down the cause of the fire. The general manager of the business said the 10 cars were insured, and the auction was open for business on Friday.