Note: Davis Patch put in a call asking about this incident, but didn't hear back. I'm passing this blog along to the Fire Department via email in hopes that they can provide some info. Here's a blog post from a witness:
A car exploded in a gravel lot between the Solano apartments and the Davis Target around 12:30 am on April 18 of this year.
We live across the John Baravetto park from that lot, & the boom shook our house. We all ran out & could see flames rising into the sky, at that point it wasn't clear if the apartments were on fire or what. We called 911 and I ran over in case it was actually the apartments on fire and help was needed going door to door waking folks up to get out. Turned out it was a car parked in a gravel lot next to the back wall of the apartment garages. The car was totally engulfed in flames rising 20 feet into the air, but from about 50 feet away I could see that the drivers side door was open and it looked like there might be a gas can on the ground next to the door.
Someone warned that there were a lot of oxygen tanks stored in the garage there, so we all backed way off. The car owner was not to be found, but some woman was crying that she thought she knew the owner and kept trying to get closer to try see if anyone was in the car, but her companion held her back. Eventually the fire department showed up, so I went on home, but was still very curious as to what really happened. Later on the 18th the car had already been removed, but the big charred spot was clearly visible, & I tried checking around a little but couldn't find anything out.
There are a couple things about it still of a little concern & driving my curiosity. The major one was the slow response by the Fire Department. This place was just about 3 or 4 blocks from the Mace Fire Dept Station, but it seemed at least ten minutes after I called 911 before we even heard sirens. My family, watching the flames back from our house & getting worried about the long delay without sirens, had even called 911 again. Within a minute or two of finally hearing the sirens a firetruck arrived, and by ~20 minutes after our first call to 911 there were 3 firetrucks there.
That long initial delay really concerned me though. I just now read up on fire response time standards & found that 10 minutes is generally considered a typical time for a fire to spread to adjoining rooms, and that the The National Fire Protection Association standard is for firefighters to arrive within 5 minutes of the fire dept being notified (which apparently typically takes an additional 30 seconds to one minute after 911 is called). I'm quite sure this response was at least a few minutes slower than the five minute standard. I can understand that targets can't always be met, but it seems that such a significant miss should be acknowledged and an explanation should be available of why it is believed that such would not be repeated.
The second concern was about the possibility the explosion was crime related, since it was so close to our house. That's not a big concern, but a little nagging. It seems particularly strange that I haven't ever been able to dig up any kind of public notice of this on the web anywhere.
I had tried finding out more about this back on April 18, including notifying the Patch about it, but couldn't get any details and was just reminded of it recently but still can't find anything on the Web. We were concerned about the fire department reponse, and also wondering if anyone knew what the cause was, if it was some kind of mishap, crime related or what.
Folks at the Patch suggested I post here and see what anyone else might know -- anyone here a witness to any part of it, know anything more about the cause, or share my concern about the response time? Especially after just getting these details about response standards I'm pretty tempted to follow up more with the Fire Dept for more information about the event & response.