Collier Car Fire Victims Recall Hectic Night
Police are investigating the fires that left Steve and Bernice's van and another car charred early Tuesday morning.
Steve and Bernice, who declined to give their last names for this story, woke up around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday to the horn of their 2003 Honda Odyssey blaring in their Collier Drive driveway.
“It wasn’t the alarm, it was more like a constant blare,” Steve said. “So when the key remote wouldn’t turn it off, I went to the window, and that’s when I saw the smoke.”
Steve then ran outside and grabbed the hose. In the heat of the moment, he remembered to turn the water on, and ran to the driver side of the van, where the flame was.
“When I went to shoot the flame on the driver side, nothing happened,” he said as he was spraying black sludge from the driveway into the storm drain. “The hose wasn’t attached.”
He gave a chuckle, and then started spraying the sludge again.
That’s when he ran inside and dialed 911, and he and Bernice shepherded their four children to the basement and waited for the Strongsville Fire Department.
Steve and Bernice’s Honda wasn’t the only car on Collier Drive that caught fire early Tuesday. As fire fighters were responding to their fire, an Oldsmobile Alero eight houses down caught fire.
Strongsville Police are currently investigating the fires. In an email Wednesday morning, Lt. John Janowski declined to say if the police have any suspects, or if the fires were intentional.
Janowski said both fires were started in the cars’ interior, but only one fire reached the engine compartment.
No injuries have been reported.
Steve said there were "a few small explosions" and all the windows had blown out of the van and into the yard.
“You can see where we parked the van,” Bernice said, pointing to a patch of charred grass lining the concrete driveway about halfway towards the street. “If we’d parked closer, it could’ve hit the house when it blew up like that.”
The van, which Steve and Bernice have had for nearly 10 years, was only going to be parked in the driveway for a few more days.
Their oldest daughter came home on spring break from Liberty University in Virginia Saturday, and Bernice told her that when she went back, she could take the van.
“She was excited,” Bernice said. “But that didn’t exactly work out.”
Instead of going to Virginia, the van is parked in a police impound lot for investigation along with the Alero that had already belonged to a college-age girl home for spring break.
“There was no correlation between the two cars, other than they were both unlocked,” Steve said.
Steve and Bernice said they had been talking about getting a new car anyway, and they have insurance even if they won’t get much.
“I just pray that whoever did this, they get some help, because they obviously have some issues,” Steve said. “I feel sorry for them.”
They were also happy no one was hurt.
“We’re thankful we’re all ok” Steve said. “You always replace things, but you can’t replace body parts.”