Castalia police cruisers burn

Work being done on a fuel pump when fire started.
Dec 24, 2013


Two of three cruisers owned by the Castalia Police Department were charred to their shells Monday morning in a fire at the village garage.

An off-duty police officer was changing a fuel pump in one of the cruisers at about 10:35 a.m. when, upon removing the pump, something sparked and ignited the fuel tank.

Castalia police Chief Ken Majoy and Margaretta Township fire Capt. Dan Strayer refused to provide the name of the officer who unsuccessfully changed the pump.

After failing to extinguish the blaze on his own, the officer was treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital but was released Monday afternoon.    The garage that contained the cruisers, at 126 Main St., also caught fire.

“We had a snow blower, a tool chest, air compressor and firearms that were destroyed,” Majoy said. “All of the equipment in the vehicles was destroyed too: fire extinguishers, first aid kits, cones, tape measurers, chemical mace, hammers to destroy windows. There are so many things that you don’t think about until you don’t have them anymore”

The officer was able to remove a shotgun and its case, both of which were in one cruiser’s trunk.

Strayer and Majoy could not provide an estimated cost of damage.

The starting price of one equipped police cruiser, based on purchases by other area departments, is typically about $30,000.

“The structure was fully engulfed by the time we got there,” Strayer said. “It took off fast and everything inside was a total loss. The structure will probably have to be torn down and rebuilt”

About 10 firefighters extinguished the blaze in less than 30 minutes, and no one else was injured.

With only one cruiser left for the entire town, Majoy said the two destroyed cars will have to be replaced.

“I talked to the (Erie County) Sheriff this morning and he sent his wishes and said if we need anything they can help, since they have a substation back here” Majoy said. “Right now, we are doing OK as long as our one, new cruiser works. Hopefully it won’t fall apart. You never know."

Story and photos by Brandon Carte


Ben Crazy

Hope he is a better cop than technition! Teamray can use him .


He was probably just trying to save the village some money. Accidents happen, just glad he's ok.


Look at all the money they saved from taking it to a real shop. It's a $200 job that turned into $50,000+ project. Nice work.


But this job is insured :)


Let me guess, the repair by the officer was done to save money.
Like the saying goes "why pay a professional?"


Step 1. Drain fuel tank.

Simple Enough II

Step 1. Disconnect battery!

Stop It


Stop It

That'd be step 2. See Simple Enough II's suggestion.


i am glad that no one got hurt , But I have to ask myself as well as all the readers , What was The off duty officer doing changing the pump to begin with? Cause most work is done with certified machinics .Boy I wouldnt want to have to be in his shoes , He is going to have to do a lot of explaining to do . Not to mention I am just wandering if the innsurance will cover the cars involved as well as the building. Guess time will tell


So glad that no one was hurt in this case and as a former long time resident of Castalia I can maybe answer the question that some of you have. Because the Village and Margaretta Twp are both so small and incorporated together in a lot of things, the jobs are often held by one common person per job. For example the grounds keeper position for both the Village and the Township are help by the same person and he also handles the street maintenance for the Village. If one of the officers was trained as a mechanic to do minor work he may be asked to do the work not only on the vehicles for the Village for the Township as well as being a back-up road maintenance driver in the winter. It doesn't mean they get additional pay since the residents of Castalia don't pay for emergency services and if I remember correctly our land taxes weren't that high inside the Village either and the levies included fire and emergency services. I don't know quite why the guy didn't call the others that were in the fire department since they were just right behind him and could have possibly gotten the fire under control a lot sooner but maybe he thought he could control it himself. Hindsight is 20/20 and the most important thing is that no one was injured and that Erie County Sheriff will be able to help cover any emergencies that may arise.


As fast as I saw that up the man is lucky.


I know the officer involved in this accident and he is a competent person. As far as draining the fuel, its not required in changing all fuel pumps. He may have disconnected the batt, ever heard of static electricity. Accidents happen it might have happened at the dealer just as easy as it happened in there garage. I don't understand how the damage was so sever with the fire dept so close but when your dealing with chemical fires its not as easy as dumping water on it and a fire extinguisher might spread the fire faster than putting it out. And its not always about saving money. When you have someone competent to work on your vehicles its usually faster than waiting a week for the dealer to do the work. There a small village and many of them where many hats, and if it wasn't a common repair they would not have attempted it.

Simple Enough II

Never said, he did or didn't disconnect the battery, just correcting the poster about emptying the fuel tank 1st.

Erie County Resident

Glad to see MFD was right there on the job ... LMAO!!!


my daughter and I were there close by. We saw how fast it went up. The firemen did the best they could. It was one of the fastest fires I have ever seen. The whole building went up so fast it was amazing. I repeat MFD did all they could do SFD or PFD would have had the same problem. Gas and sparks don't mix.


MTFD is one of the best EMS and fire departments in the county. I would want those guys treating me over Sandusky Fire, who mainly just complain when the tone goes off. Perkins has a great department also. Margaretta Fire, because of the size of their coverage area, has longer response and transports times, therefore are with the patients longer and are responsible for their treatment longer than SFD, who usually only have time for IV's and transports.


Luckily no one was injured or killed in the fire. I can only imagine a host of new policies will be written dealing with repairing village owned equipment by unauthorized and unqualified personnel. Sure the man was trying to save the village money and that is commendable but even the best of intentions as in this case can go up on flames.

As well intentioned as the officer might have been you have to ask would you send the auto mechanic with pistol and shotgun into the local bank to stop a robbery........probably not. In this case should a policeman be doing repairs on a vehcile that are above operator level........probably not. The end result is we now have 2/3 of the village police cruisers demolished, a village service garage unusable and a person could have been severly hurt or killed in this accident. Let's end the practice of this happening again and do it immediately.


Cop is a certified mechanic who does good work. He took all the safety precations including removing the gas tank and battery. Just a freak accident. Shat the bed.

Stop It

Certified mechanics pull gas tanks while sitting flat on the ground and not at least, underneath should have jackstands or ramps?

Who you tryin'to BS, TuffNutts2011?

Picture says a thousand words....


I agree that is not the way one safely repairs a car. I am sure the man / cop was well intentioned and tried and probably has times before saved the village money in car repairs "but" and their lies the bump in the road. Lots was lost here not just the car but the communicaton equipment, radar equipment, etc etc etc. AND you for sure know the insurance company is NOT going to do at full replacement value. So for sure the village is out a lot of money in this incident.

I would not at all be surprised if the insurance company goes after the cop for damages. Would not surprise me one bit. Insurance companies can be brutal when it comes to their bottom dollar.

Big Poppy



That's what I thought too. Maybe his ego will deflate a little now.


Now would be a perfect time to do away with the Castalia Police department entirely. All they do is issue speeding tickets and the occasional DUI they get when they pull over random cars driving through town after midnight, simply because they are on the road at that time. It's a complete waste of taxpayer money to have a full-time police force in a town the size of Castalia. Oh wait...they did bust that teacher with a student--talking in the parking lot at Lion's Park. On second thought, maybe we do need them.


he's more dangerous with a wrench than with a gun. maybe he should carry a wrench in his holster..

Rationally Speaking

Castalia has one full time officer, and the rest are part-time working other jobs. The Village residents voted in a small levy so that they could have a police department so it is not taking any tax money from outside the Village boundaries. Being part-time, they do their job out of dedication because their pay could not support them. They do not get any benefits. The officer involved is dedicated and was probably donating his time. He is a qualified mechanic. Thank God he was not more seriously hurt. To take the cruiser to a dealership would have cost the Village dearly for every little repair. This would eat up their bare bones budget. They are lucky to have someone to help control costs. And really, Logistics, do you want drunk drivers on the road with you or your family as you are apparently on the road after midnight?

And criticizing the fire department. Have any of the nay Sayers ever operated a piece of their machinery. Considering the firefighters have to put on their protective gear, get a fire truck out, the hoses charged with foam, and then fighting a gasoline fire with the possibility of a loaded firearm being involved and unknown gases from the burning interior of the cruisers.

Cruisers and buildings can be replaced, lives cannot. There is probably insurance to replace the material things.

At least everyone involved can be home for Christmas... Thanks guys!!!

Stop It

A certitified mechanic does not drop a fuel tank without the vehicle lifted in some way. As I stated earlier, jack stands or ramps. I forgot to mention a floor jack to hold the weight while the bolts are taken out.

You know nothing about certification if you believe he did that procedure in the proper manner. Two police cars and a shelter burnt to the ground...spending a dollar to save a dime.


Ladies and gents. The village of Castalia has part time ONLY LE officers, except the Chief. This officer happens to be a full time automotive professional, when he's not dawning the uniform. Accidents happen!!! Let's just be thankful everyone is ok. Merry Christmas to all.

2cents's picture

Thanks for the explanation : )


And the so-called Chief, except for occasional traffic control when school lets out, can be found sitting at his desk. Unless you count the 'hour' lunch break he takes when he goes home to Huron.

Stop It

Professional mechanics DON'T CHANGE FUEL PUMPS with the car sitting flat on the ground.

You can change your handle as often as you want to back that idiotic stunt up. It does not not change the fact that Castalia is out two cars and a car shelter for stupidity.

Sure, insurance will pay and Castailia gets newer cars and insurance rates go up costing the taxpayer.

Let's see how the ball rolls....prolly won't hear anything more.

Stop It

This will be "under the rug".

Stop It

Wanna bet the newer cruisers will be Chargers or SUVs? That's what all the surrounding area has, afterall. No more Crown Vics.


Hey Stop It.... maybe you don't know as much as you think you do. Why wouldn't a mechanic change a pump on level ground? Assuming it was the Charger needing the fuel pump, you don't have to put the vehicle on jacks, a lift or any other hoist. The Charger's fuel pump is accessible by removing the back seat. He wouldn't even have to drop the fuel tank. So, by your wisdom if he were to change the Charger's fuel pump... the proper way would be to hoist the vehicle while he's in the back seat changing the fuel pump. Genius.

For arguments sake, let's also say it was the Crown Victoria that needed the fuel pump. Per AllData, not one step in the process says to lift the vehicle. There's precautions that say don't smoke, be careful of electrical devices, etc. But no where, not one time, is it mentioned that it needs to be on a lift. So now, is this mentality that a professional mechanic would know to lift a vehicle for a fuel pump fact based? Not at all. Are there hundreds, possibly thousands, of properly trained and certified mechanics who have changed a fuel pump in there driveway on the ground without incident? Most certainly.

Stop It

Keep changing your handle and making stupid excuses for the idiot who just jacked up the cost for the local taxpayer and won't be named?. Done by the book, is done by the book.

Buy a Chilton or YOU show me where pulling a backseat is the same as this?

Tue, 12/24/2013 - 3:29pm

Cop is a certified mechanic who does good work. He took all the safety precations including removing the gas tank and battery. Just a freak accident. Shat the bed.


Keep changing handle? What?

If TuffNuts is talking about the Charger and is "in the know", then he's wrong and so was the repair process.

If TuffNuts is talking about the Crown Vic and is "in the know", then he's right and it was just a freak accident.

I don't have a horse in this race. I only jumped in the mix here because you were falsely claiming they HAD to hoist the vehicle in some way to drop the tank. That's wrong. You're wrong.

Buy a Chilton or YOU show me where it's required to hoist a vehicle for a fuel pump. You can do that right? Since that's your entire basis for claiming he's not qualified.


Let me get this straight, the MPD is refusing to give the name of the officer? In their attempt to show their loyalty to their fellow officer to uphold the blue line that has protected wrong doings across many police departments in the past, they fail to remember they are accountable to the public that pays for such mistakes. This sort of ego that is forged over time blurs this reality and ultimately forges officers whom seem to develop a sense of power that must routinely be squelched by the reality that they are simply uniformed community guards and not impervious to reality. The option to release a name is not an option at all!


Better take Barney´s cigs away!