Blazing in north Sacramento

Incidences of torched cars on the up in neighborhood

North Sacramento motorists are all fired up, literally.

Since the beginning of April, the fire department has received 15 different reports of cars engulfed in flames, said Niko King, assistant chief with the Sacramento Fire Department. That’s up more than 50 percent from last year, when there were nine car fires in the same time period—which in and of itself seemed like a high number.

Kaito Park was witness to one of the torched cars near his home in early April. “A person yelled ‘Fire!’ and our neighbors were surrounding. I think it was a four-door SUV or something,” said Park, who also mentioned that before the fire that night, a neighbor saw someone run by and throw something into the car.

“The fire department was out there for probably 30 minutes,” said Park’s partner, Valentino Fernandez, who witnessed the same fire.

“I was surprised [that] no police came that night,” he added.

But that’s because police only get involved after the fact—if a witness comes forward, or if the charred plates turn up in a police database as a stolen vehicle, explained King.

A fire department investigator did follow up on this group of fires, he added, and no discernable pattern was discovered in terms of how these fires started. Some could have been due to extreme overheating problems, while others could have been due to other maintenance accidents, he said.

Interestingly—and perhaps fortunately—torched autos and vehicles engulfed in flames are a problem only local to north Sacramento and not a lot of other areas.

“There seems to be more [car fires] that occur in the north area, because there’s a lot of land and industrial area,” King said. “Usually if it’s a stolen vehicle, there’s a lot of places to park it and set it on fire without anyone seeing.”

But lately, the fires have been in neighborhoods. North Sacramento resident and artist Skinner, who witnessed one such blaze, said there’s now a “huge black burnt spot across the street from my house.”