After flames of rhetoric alleging the Chevrolet Volt might have caused a Connecticut garage fire last month, the case has basically fizzled from the media’s attention, but yesterday the local fire marshal in charge said the Volt was cleared of suspicion in his mind.
“It wasn’t the cars,” Barkhamsted Fire Marshal William Baldwin told GM-Volt.com regarding the cause of a fire at the Barkhamsted residence of Dee and Storm Connors.
This is Baldwin’s only known public statement clearing the Volt, so we thought we would mention it because he said it unequivocally and repeated it.
“It wasn’t the cars,” he said again of the April 14 fire that destroyed a garage and its contents, but did not spread to the adjoining house due to a robust firewall.
Officially the fire marshal’s report still states the cause was “inconclusive,” but as the local fire official responsible for the investigation – among other investigators – Baldwin’s view yesterday was at least conclusive about the big question surrounding the Volt.
So, we asked, what was the cause? Could it have been the garage wiring or some other incendiary source?
He said yes it could have been, but he does not believe it was the fault of the Chevrolet Volt or a home-converted Suzuki Samurai EV that was also in the garage at the time of the fire.
According to Storm Connors, the owner of the house and the EVs in question, his garage had a number of flammable items laying around. This is what he wrote on his blog April 20:
Ya gotta love the media and the public’s perceptions. Tis true that the Volt was suspected of causing the fire. So was the Suzuki, the electrical wiring, candles, discarded ashes, oily rags and any other possible ignition source. We have been reviewed by the Fire marshal, the state fire marshal, the CT State Police forensics group, the National auto safety board, 5 engineers from GM; all of whom seem pretty sure that the Volt did not cause the fire. A state electrical investigator spent 4 hours examining the wiring to the Suzuki charger and gave it a clean bill of health.
It will be quite a while before we will be able to occupy the house, despite Heather’s observation. Smoke odor is the biggest problem, but we still have no electricity. The local fire department did a super job in confining the fire to the attached garage.
My advice would be to have a smoke detector in the garage, clean the junk out of the garage, and take lots of pictures. It is really hard to remember what stuff you had before the fire.
Baldwin further told us that GM’s people came and retrieved the cars, and they are still analyzing the burned vehicles.
“They took the cars,” he said, “it’s done.”
Actually, GM only took the Volt, not the Suzuki.
Wondering about all the reactive media attention the case got, and following a hunch, we asked: “No one followed up on this, did they?”
Baldwin said Amica insurance had, but did not mention any follow up from the reporters and commentators last month – some of which had alleged bad news for the Volt, electric vehicles, environmentalism, General Motors, government bailouts, taxpayers’ money, and anything else they felt was remotely related.
We expect if indeed no reporters have followed up, some now will.
And although Fire Marshal Baldwin was good enough to briefly answer our questions, he said we had called at an inconvenient time, and had nothing else to add.
At this point, it is up to Amica insurance and GM to make their own assessments – and they haven’t announced anything yet.
GM’s investigators have gone on record as stating they do not believe the Volt was at fault, and as of Wednesday this week, this is still the case, but they have not broadcast the news in the form of a loud-and-clear press release.
So while we would like to say the Volt is 100-percent vindicated, we are reporting “unofficially” until all involved investigators make a definitive determination.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.