A light blue Chevrolet K5 Blazer parked in the 1200 block of East Third Avenue went up in flames at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, and drew about a dozen spectators on nearby sidewalks before fire and law enforcement officials arrived at the location.
The vehicle, owned by 16-year-old Jacob Schultz, was parked on the east side of the street parallel to the tennis courts, when a vaporizer pen ignited a fire in the cab. This year, vaporizer devices have started 16 fires in Colorado, a high number for a single cause, said Durango Fire Rescue Marshal Karola Hanks.
“People need to be aware these devices can start fires,” Hanks said. “Vaporizers produce heat and users should realize how dangerous it can be if one is left unattended and comes into contact with flammable material.”
Schultz and some friends used the vape pen before they went to class, then left it under the front-passenger seat. Shortly after, the fire was called into Durango Fire at 8:49 a.m.
Firefighters arrived on the scene at 8:54 a.m. with an engine and hoses. They used compressed air foam, ideal for vehicle fires, to extinguish the flames in minutes, while Durango Police Department directed traffic and kept the area safe.
Schultz watched from the grassy median on East Third Avenue with a few friends, as his car smoldered and smoked. The Blazer was originally his grandfather’s, and it has heavy sentimental value. He was in the process of restoring it to better condition before the fire occurred.
Despite how suddenly it ignited and the intensity of the flames, the vehicle was not destroyed after the fire was contained. The cab was charred and melted, but the engine and transmission sustained little to no damage.
The Blazer was towed from the location after fire officials confirmed the fire was extinguished and the area was safe.