2017 | Police & Fire

Wisconsin Avenue High-Rise Partially Evacuates After Car Fire in Garage

Car parked in underground garage burst into flames Thursday, causing fire alarms to go off in lobby

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A car was engulfed in a fire Thursday that gutted its interior but didn't spread.

Joe Zimmermann

Updated 4:40 p.m.: A car burst into flames Thursday in an underground Bethesda parking garage, causing many workers in the high-rise above to evacuate.

The fire broke out in the car in a garage below 7501 Wisconsin Ave. at about 11 a.m., according to Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer. Firefighters arrived at the scene after smoke was seen coming from parking garage vents.

The maroon four-door sedan was parked in a reserve space in a middle ramp on the P2 level of the garage. The fire gutted much of the car’s interior, with its seats eaten through and its hood discolored from burns. All of the windows had shattered.

The fire was confined to the car and extinguished by sprinklers and firefighters. There was no visible damage to the garage, other than some burn marks on the ground, or to a car parked in an adjacent space.

Because the parking garage is below the building, fire alarms went off in lower parts of the building, including the first floor and the lobby, leading many more people to leave the building than was necessary, staff members in the building said.

The building includes a Capital One bank and office space for several companies.

Piringer reported that the fire was caused by a mechanical problem and resulted in $50,000 in damages. There were no injuries.