Recreation Center Evacuated in Australia
A FIRE IN A PARKING LOT MEDIAN strip in Sydney, Australia, Sunday destroyed 47 cars and damaged at least 33 others. They were parked at the Sydney Olympic Park aquatic center and the smoke from the runaway blaze triggered the smoke detectors inside the arena causing a panicky evacuation of the facility.
Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Ian Krimmer said the cause of the fire had not been determined, however a cigarette butt was the likely source.
"We’ve pinpointed [the origin] to the area beside a vehicle … but investigations have not yet concluded as the police are still checking CCTV footage," he said.
The grass fire began about 3pm and spread quickly to nearby cars.
A Sydney Olympic Park Authority spokesman said native grass in the area had been cut over the past week and clippings were routinely left as mulch.
Visitors streaming out of the arena reported that tires were "popping like fireworks" as the flames consumed two rows of cars, whipped along by strong winds.
The alarm brought over 50 firefighters to the scene where they were busy for the first few minutes containing the spreading fire and eventually getting it knocked down.
Channel 9 News posted some raw footage taken from their helicopter:
The parking lot medians are mown-grass areas that are tinder-dry due to Austalia's current drought and the fire authorities believe that either a discarded cigarette or a spark from an exhaust pipe started the fire which spread to a car and then hopped along car-to-car while leaping across to another row of parked vehicles.
The point of origin has been identified and the police are currently studying the CCTV tapes of the lot to try and pin down the exact cause.
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