NORWICH – A soon-to-be-junk van caught fire and burned Wednesday at a city dealership.
Technicians at Christman Motors on South Broad Street were attempting to disable the Ford E-250’s engine as required by the federal Cash for Clunkers trade-in program, fire and dealership officials reported. After running for a few minutes, the engine block got hot and went up in flames, Christman Motors President and Owner Thomas Morrone confirmed.
No one was hurt, and the fire was contained to the front of the vehicle within minutes.
To prevent the cars from being resold, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires that the oil in clunker vehicles is drained and replaced with a solution containing Sodium Silicate, which acts as a cement, in order to seize the engine.
City of Norwich Fire Chief Tracy Chawgo said he’s heard reports of similar fires occurring nationwide and locally in the Binghamton and Oneonta areas.
“We have to find out how much of an issue this is,” said Chawgo. “The government may want to re-think how this is done. I don’t think we want to keep burning them all up.”..