Fires engulf 2 vehicles


First responders check the damage on a Mazda pickup truck that caught fire while it was parked at the Saipan Community School in Susupe Saturday afternoon. (DFEMS)

In separate incidents on Friday and Saturday, engine failure reportedly triggered a fire that engulfed a car, while mechanical and wiring problems caused a blaze at a parked pickup truck.

The first incident happened on Chalan Monsignor Martinez Road in Koblerville Friday morning, while the second fire occurred at the Saipan Community School parking lot in Susupe Saturday afternoon. No one was hurt in both fires.

In the first incident, the 44-year-old female driver was not hurt as she was able to get out of the vehicle before the fire spread, according to the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

Acting DFEMS spokesperson Bobbie Jean Taisacan said they received a call from the Department of Public Safety’s 911 about a car on fire in front of the ABCD Market on Friday at 7:53am.

Taisacan said DFEMS firefighters and emergency medical technicians from Garapan, Susupe, and Koblerville fire stations immediately responded to the scene. Firefighters fully extinguished the blaze at 8:17am.

The driver of the car, a 2001 Hyundai Sonata with license plate ADE 592, told responders that she was driving south when she noticed smoke coming out from under the car’s hood.

The driver pulled over to the side of the road in front of the ABCD Market to check and saw flames coming out from underneath the hood.

A man assisted the driver with a bucket of water to put out the fire. Taisacan said the fire, however, rekindled and then fully engulfed the vehicle.

Taisacan said arson investigators determined that the origin of the fire was from the engine due to engine failure. DFEMS classified the matter as accidental and closed the case.

In the second blaze, a 40-year-old maintenance worker at Saipan Community School called DPS 911 Saturday afternoon when he noticed smoke coming out of the hood of a parked blue Mazda pickup truck with license plate AEH 392.

The maintenance worker then tried to extinguish the fire using a garden hose until emergency responders arrived.

Taisacan said they received the 911 call at 3:40pm.

Initial investigation showed that the pickup truck, owned by Saipan Community School, sustained moderate heat and smoke damage.

Taisacan said arson investigators determined that the fire started in the engine compartment and spread.

Fire pattern revealed that the blaze spread rapidly in the engine compartment from ignitable items in the truck.

Investigators learned that the truck had an oil change last year.

Taisacan said clean burns also showed that the fire’s point of origin was the engine compartment.

Investigators concluded that the cause of fire was due to mechanical and wiring issues and therefore accidental.

Last June 13, three persons were injured when a car that struck another vehicle caught fire at the Beach Road-Quartermaster intersection. No one suffered burns.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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