A parked car outside of 708 Commonwealth Ave. — west of Warren Towers and in front of Insomnia Cookies — caught on fire in the early hours of Sunday morning. The fire was put out by the City of Boston Fire Department and towed away shortly after.
A video, uploaded by Reddit user r/SubstantialWeather1, shows a plume of smoke rising over the vehicle as flames engulfed it, time-stamped at 2:01 a.m..
Anthony Richards, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he was in his Whitestone apartment at 722 Commonwealth Ave. when he heard a car horn-like sound going off continuously.
“Not like ‘oh, I’m honking at someone,’” he said. “I’m pretty used to that in the city, but it wasn’t a beep, it was just a steady whine.”
Richards said he then went outside to see what was happening. As he walked toward the Insomnia Cookies, he said he saw “not just a car fire, but a car blaze.”
“Before too long I guess the entire thing, not just the interior or the engine, no, this whole car [was] engulfed in flames,” he said. “It was kind of wild.”
Brian Alkins, public information officer for the Boston Fire Department, said the cause of the fire is still being investigated.
After the fire is extinguished, Alkins said the general procedure for a car fire is to have the Fire Investigation Unit look into the cause.
Alkins said electrical issues — such as a loose wire — or a fuel leak are common causes of car fires, but he said “every car fire is different.”
Priya Moncrieffe, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said she was sitting with a group of friends outside the Insomnia Cookies when she saw the car catch fire.
“The fire just grew really quickly,” Moncrieffe said. “We smelled smoke, but we didn’t know where it was coming from, and then all of a sudden we heard someone shouting ‘fire.’”
Moncrieffe said their group then started to walk away from the commotion as they “saw the fire light growing.” She said the sounds of explosions followed soon after.
Alkins said though he was not on the scene, the explosion sound could have been caused by a variety of reasons.
“Usually, nine times out of 10 it’s either the tires [exploding] or the gas tank,” he said.
The owner of the car could not be reached for comment.
Moncrieffe said someone called the fire department, which she said quickly arrived on the scene. She noted the car was on fire for about 10 minutes.
The car itself was towed at 2:30 a.m, according to pictures captured on scene by The Daily Free Press.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley declined to comment, citing unfamiliarity with the incident.
The BU Campus Safety webpage on Reporting Crimes or Other Emergencies urges students to call 911 first in the event of a fire, followed by Boston University Police Department. Their emergency number is 617-353-2121.