A downtown building and parking deck had to be evacuated after a car caught fire Tuesday morning.
The car caught fire in the basement level of a parking deck on North 5th and East Main streets around 8:30 a.m. Investigators have not yet determined the cause but the driver says it happened while he was looking for a parking spot.
"I smelled a lot of smoke in the elevator so I was pretty concerned," said Kathy Ward who was in the elevator.
The driver told firefighters he was looking for a space when he smelled smoke and realized the back of his car was on fire.
"It smelled like burning rubber," said Ward.
The driver did not want to go on camera but said he jumped out to warn other people about the smoke and flames. By the time firefighters arrived, the smoke spread to the adjacent building, prompting evacuations.
"There was a lot of black and white smoke coming out of the first deck," Ward said.
Crews say the enclosed space makes it more difficult to fight a fire like this.
"You've got to get around things. It is an obstacle course," said Richmond Fire Lt. Robbie Hagaman.
The deck's sprinkler system helped fight the flames.
"I know I've spent over $25,000 to $30,000 maintaining it all these years thinking we would never think to use it because it's all concrete," Charles Farmer said.
People said the blaze was an inconvenience on the way to work , but they're glad nobody was injured.
Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.
WWBT-TV NBC 12
P.O. Box 12
On Your Side
Video and Pics