Indiana State Trooper Troy Cobb and Brazil City Police Patrolman Chris Blila watch Brazil City Fire Chief Tobey Archer and a fireman drench the engine fire in Cobb's police cruiser Wednesday morning. The unusual fire, which happened when the vehicle was parked and unattended, will be investigated by the Indiana State Police Logistics Division in Indianapolis.
Indiana State Police Troy Cobb trooper left court Wednesday morning to find members of the Brazil City Fire Department putting out a fire in his police cruiser.
Shortly before 10:30 a.m., 911 dispatchers received several reports of a vehicle fire at the courthouse.
Brazil City Fire Department was dispatched to the scene while the Brazil City Police and Clay County Sheriff's departments closed Jackson Street and the street on the west side of the courthouse.
"It started in the engine area. The fire was rolling pretty good when we got here," Fire Chief Tobey Archer said. "Flames were inside the front seat area, so we broke the driver's side window, which was already cracked from the heat of the fire, to get water on it."
Cobb parked his car just north of the intersection of Alabama and Jackson streets on the west side of the road before appearing in court for a case.
"I came out of court to find (firemen) putting it out," Cobb said while moving singed and smoke-damaged equipment into a Clay County Sheriff's Department vehicle for safe keeping.
Other than the laptop and a cell phone, it didn't appear that much of the department's equipment was destroyed in the fire, according to ISP Sgt. David Edwards.
Edwards arrived on the scene to take Cobb to the Terre Haute post for another vehicle.
This type of incident has happened to ISP cruisers throughout the state, but this is only the third time its happened to troopers at the Terre Haute post, Edwards said.
"Most likely it was caused by the wiring. There's a lot of electronics in these cars -- like radars, scanners, laptops and radios -- and after a while the wiring just fails," Edwards said. "We will tow the car to the main garage in Indianapolis to try and assess why the fire happened, inventory what is salvageable and then junk the rest of it. As for an investigation, it was parked and unattended before it caught fire, so I don't think there will be much of one."
A spokesperson for the Indiana State Police Logistics Division, Indianapolis, agreed ISP cruisers have caught fire before, but said this is an unusual case.
"There were extenuating circumstances involved -- the cars were running, it happened during a pursuit, those types of things -- this is the first time we've had one just ignite into flames while parked with no one around," she said. "There will be an internal investigation by the department to determine why and how this fire happened. No further details will be available until the investigation is concluded."
Logistic division personnel estimates the cost of the vehicle's replacement (including the car purchase from Ford and outfitting it with equipment to meet ISP standards) is around $32,500.