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Cobra Consumed by Fire in Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel


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Classic Car Consumed In Fire In Tunnel


By Ray O'Neil, Incident Commander

May 24, 2012


A 1964 Cobra sports car valued at $800,000 was completely consumed in a fire in the Zion Mount Carmel tunnel on the afternoon of Monday, May 21st. The fire was reported to the park just after 5 p.m. and the park’s structural fire engine company responded along with the Springdale/Rockville fire department and two wildland fire engines. A Type Six engine with a 250 gallon tank and a pump capacity of 150 gallons per minute entered the tunnel with two firefighters wearing SCBAs. A second Type Six engine, two Type One engines, and the wildland engines provided backup for the initial attack engine. Firefighters with the initial attack engine were able to successfully contain and extinguish the fully engulfed sports car. The two occupants of the car had found relatively safe refuge in two of the tunnel’s gallery windows. All other vehicles and people exited the tunnel prior to initial attack efforts. The two occupants were transported by ambulance to a local hospital. The tunnel and road were closed for two-and-a-half hours. The insurance value of the sports car was reported to be $800,000. Construction of the tunnel, which is just over a mile long, began in the late 1920's and was completed in 1930. At the time the tunnel was dedicated, it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States. In addition to concerns with the potential for multiple vehicles and people trapped inside the tunnel, responders were aware that wooden timbers provide structural support and prevent rock fall in the interior of the tunnel. The NPS engine company conducts yearly training sessions in the tunnel and had determined that a smaller engine would provide better access and egress from the tunnel in the event of a vehicle fire. Firefighters were also aware that afternoon winds would likely vent smoke away from them as they approached. A protective coating along the walls in the area of the fire protected the tunnel’s wood timbers.

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