Car fire at CAES disrupts dismissal, no injuries

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The car fully engulfed in flames just before the fire department arrived. Photo by Barry Fowler

A car fire at 3 p.m. threw the afternoon dismissal for Chester-Andover Elementary School into disarray while firefighters blocked the driveway to extinguish the blaze.

As parents in cars lined up behind the school to pick up their children, the car at the front of the line – a white Jeep Laredo – burst into flames. Doug Densmore, who was picking up this niece and was parked directly behind the flaming car drove clear of it and blocked traffic coming into the school while the fire department was called.

Seconds after firefighters turned on the hoses. All photos by Shawn Cunningham unless otherwise noted

“I saw something on fire drop from the car and then the flames burst out of it,” said Densmore.

Chester Fire Department responded quickly to what rapidly had become a roaring fire. Firefighters knocked down the flames in a stinky burst of steam and smoke and then coated the vehicle with foam. As a precaution, the areas around the car and the roof of the school were also foamed down in case a stray piece of flaming material had landed there.

Foaming the roof as a precaution

Principal Katherine Fogg said that there were no injuries and that the dismissal was interrupted so buses would be late and parents who remained in cars behind the school would have to wait to leave while the fire department moved out of the way.

Unfazed though, the remaining students took advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures on the school playground.



Sometimes parent pick up seems like a parking lot. Today it was.

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  1. Scott MacDonald says:

    I was in the parking lot when the car caught fire, and was so impressed by the school staff. Everyone was kept safely out of harm’s way and guided carefully to a clear area in an orderly and calm manner. The students were so responsible, and did a great job listening to their teachers! I have been involved in quite a few emergency situations and rescues, and the response from the school staff could not have been better. Good job CAES staff! I was also impressed with the Telegraph’s speedy arrival on the scene to report this!

  2. Steffanie Baker says:

    It was a scary situation, but the school staff kept calm and directed. So grateful that there was a staff member that was attentive and able to get the vehicle occupants out safely before things got out of control!

  3. Emily Hurley says:

    I wouldn’t say unfazed. Many of the children were shaken. They were not allowed on the playground until everything was cleared as it is too close to the school. Surely glad everyone was safe.