BREAKING: Car outside of East Res catches fire; none harmed

By Brandon Desiderio
November 20, 2012

Last updated at 8:36 P.M. on Tuesday, Nov. 20. See bottom of article for update log.

A vehicle caught fire behind East Residence Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at about 4:30 p.m. Public Safety said that the exact cause of the fire is unknown, although it was likely caused by a broken fuel line.

The car belongs to a female freshman student’s aunt. Her father borrowed the car to pick her up for Thanksgiving break.

Jordan Highbloom, a freshman with an undeclared major, responded to the fire immediately alongside his friend Chris Treat. Highbloom and Treat ran through the first two floors of East Res and grabbed all the fire extinguishers, using five or six in total in an effort to extinguish the fire. The Radnor Fire Company arrived shortly after.

According to Highbloom, the father said the car had been in the shop the day before. The car was allegedly smoking before it arrived on campus and caught fire while the student and her father were both in East Res. No one was harmed.

Highbloom has previously worked in a mechanic shop.

“My first thought is that it’s the spark plugs in the cylinders releasing too much spark for the gasoline,” Highbloom said. “Or there could have been a leak in the cylinder, like a crack, because that’s the cause of the ones I’ve seen, because it started in the engine.”

When asked about what made him act so quickly, Highbloom replied: “Instinct.”

“I just didn’t want a guy to have to stare at his sister’s vehicle burning, looking helpless,” Highbloom explained. “I wanted to reach out a hand.”

Highbloom has no firefighting training, but having worked at the mechanic shop, in addition to his work at the Philadelphia’s Naval Shipyard, has given him many opportunities to use fire extinguishers.

“I was hoping [the fire] wouldn’t hit the fuel pumps and go to the fuel lines and hit the tank,” Highbloom said. “Because once that happens anybody in a 10-foot radius can be hit by [shrapnel].”

The windshield exploded and hit him, but he was unharmed because he was wearing a sweatshirt.

“I think about others first,” Highbloom said. “I didn’t want anybody else to get hurt.”

Reporting contributed by Heather LaPergola and Rachel Antuzzi.

UPDATED AT 8:21 P.M.: Video from smartphone added.

UPDATED AT 7:51 P.M.: Name of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard corrected.

UPDATED AT 7:42 P.M.: Exact details correct, names added.

UPDATED AT 6:45 P.M.: More pictures added; working to contact students involved.

UPDATED AT 6:33 P.M.: Time of incident and possible cause of fire were corrected.

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Brandon Desiderio

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