Burnt PPD Van Still a Mystery
Flames engulfed a Physical Plant Department (PPD) van on the evening of Saturday, November 14, burning the vehicle to an unusable shell. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
During Security's rounds that evening, an officer saw a bright light emitting from the Athletic Center's parking lot; the light's source was the fire.
The officer on duty called the Waterville Fire Department to put out the fire. The van was unsalvageable; it had already been on fire some time before it was noticed. Surrounding vehicles and lampposts were unscathed.
The Waterville Fire Department did not uncover the source of the fire, and has passed the case on to the State Fire Marshall, who is still investigating the fire.
"We don't really know what happened," Director of the Physical Plant Pat Murphy said.
"I'd like to think it wasn't arson, and there's really nothing to lead us to believe that it was arson at this time," Pete Chenevert, director of Security, said.
The most plausible theory, both Chenevert and Murphy said, is that the fire was electrical. That Saturday saw heavy rains, and the fire appears to have started near the front of the van, by the engine, according to Chenevert.
According to Don Zavadil, assistant director of grounds and custodial services, the vehicle--a 2001 Chevrolet Astro--was used that very morning for routine recycling and trash collection. It "was parked around 10 am," he said, and it sat for the rest of the day until it caught fire.
Insurance covered the loss, and "we'll be replacing the vehicle, hopefully in the next week or so," Murphy said. In the meantime, PPD has been sharing another vehicle for recycling purposes.
The burnt van is currently in what is called the "boneyard," an eerie graveyard of sorts for discarded furniture and vehicles, located in the woods behind the Athletic Center parking lot.
Assistant News Editor Michael Brophy contributed reporting to this article.