Mechanical Problem Blamed for S.C. Patrol Car Fire

GREENVILLE, S.C. --

Greenville's fire chief said all other Dodge Chargers in the police department's fleet will be checked out after one caught on fire due to a mechanical problem.

On Monday, an officer responded as back up on a routine call along Interstate 385 when he noticed his car smoking.

He got out and was fine. His 2008 Dodge Charger was badly damaged in the fire.

Chief Tom McDowell said his investigators have been able to determine the fire was caused by automatic transmission fluid leaking from the transmission cooler in the car.

"We actually saw a trail of leaking fluid coming up to the car where it had stopped," said McDowell.

McDowell said what they still don't know is what caused the leak. The chief said it will be impossible to figure out that answer looking at the burned car. He said because of that, the city's fleet manager has decided to check all of the Chargers in the police department's fleet.

"They're well-maintained. This is not something we would normally expect to happen," said McDowell.

McDowell said the public should take notice. He said no matter what type of vehicle someone drives, they should check their driveway or garage floor for fluid leaks.

"Car fires are not likely to be the kind of Hollywood explosions that we're all used to seeing on television or in the movies," said McDowell. "We recently had one that was inside a garage. The car caught on fire and it had the potential to spread into the owner's home."

McDowell said the police cars would be checked out one-by-one rather than ground the fleet.

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