Town eyes recalled truck in garage fire

Although investigators said a baseboard heater caused the 2007 fire that destroyed the town garage,

Although investigators said a baseboard heater caused the 2007 fire that destroyed the town garage, officials in the town of Root are taking a second look after learning one of the trucks that burned up in the blaze was a model with a history of defective wiring.

Root town Supervisor John Thayer said the town earlier this year got a recall notice from Volvo Trucks North America about the electrical problem.

The vehicle in question, a 10-wheel dump truck used for sanding and plowing, was stored in the garage the evening before the Feb. 24 blaze, Thayer said.

“The recall was a wiring issue that could potentially lead to a fire,” Thayer said.

“We sent a letter to Volvo stating that we lost the truck in a fire and that obviously we can’t have the truck worked on for the recall,” Thayer said.

Thayer said he’s hoping Volvo might be induced to help the town recoup some of the losses from the fire.

Losses were estimated at roughly $1 million and insurance paid about $850,000, officials have said.

Thayer said the town borrowed $200,000 to fill in the gap between what was lost and what insurance paid for.

Firefighters were called to the Carlisle Road scene in the early morning hours to find the seven-bay garage and office engulfed in flames. The town lost five trucks, an excavator, a grader and a front-end loader, as well as other hardware and equipment.

Neighboring towns coordinated their efforts that winter to help the town cover its plowing responsibilities.

The Volvo truck had broken down on the road the night prior to the fire, but crews were able to get it back into the garage that night, Thayer said.

Thayer said fire investigators determined the blaze started in the vicinity of the break room, and they pointed to a baseboard heater as the likely culprit.

But the Volvo truck in question was parked right in front of that break room, Thayer said.

“I don’t know what exactly the connection between all of these factors ultimately is going to be,” Root town Attorney Robert Subik said.

Subik said after he sent the letter informing Volvo about the issue a couple weeks ago, the company sent back a questionnaire which he is working to complete.

Subik said the letter is considered a notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, but said no decision related to filing a lawsuit has been made.

“We’re continuing to work up information on the incident,” Subik said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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