By Samuel Rubenfeld
As junior finance major Jon Knorr sat in his calculus class on a rainy Wednesday night, his 2004 Nissan Maxima caught fire in the Breslin commuter parking lot.
Witnesses and firefighters responding to the scene said smoke billowed out from the hood before they saw fire. The flames reached more than 13 feet high, said the Public Safety officer on scene who declined to give his name, citing Public Safety policy.
"From the bottom, you could see sparks flying, and then it went up," said James Broaunsdorf, a senior management major.
There were no injuries. He had parked around 4:30 p.m., to head into a Native American literature class, Knorr said.
WRHU called Public Safety at about 5:55 p.m., and they immediately cordoned off the area, evacuating everyone from Breslin Hall. Hempstead Fire Department Engine 5 showed up minutes later and quickly got the fire under control, but not before it totaled the vehicle, blowing out all of the car's windows, destroying much of the car's front end and causing damage to the dashboard.
The fire did not extend beyond the vehicle, but the Pontiac next to the scene had its fender melted by the heat. Glass littered the parking area surrounding the scene.
"The vehicle had a 'Check Engine' light when I parked it outside of Breslin Hall but I thought nothing of it," Knorr, a commuter from Westbury, said.