The June 13 fire at ThorSport Racing’s shop was accidental and started outside the building in mulch underneath a stairway, according to a report by the Ohio State Fire Marshal.
About 40 percent of the building was lost because of the fire. The report listed fire damage as $10 million. The team fields entries in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Cameron Hayley and Rico Abreu. Fifteen of the team’s trucks were saved, but the suspension room and fab shop were destroyed. Fire units from four communities were called to the fire.
The report did not list an exact cause of the fire. The investigator wrote: “I was unable to eliminate careless smoking material discarded into the mulch bed on the exterior of the building as the heat source for this fire.”
The report noted that automatic sprinkler and fire alarms in the building did not activate because “the fire spread from the exterior into the roofline and walls. This was above and beyond the sensors and sprinkler heads. The interior alarms did activate once fire crews arrived and began to ventilate the interior rooms.”
The report also noted that “several sprinkler heads on the east side of the building activated once the roof collapsed and fire spread to interior portions of the building.”
The investigator detailed fire damage found in the patio area. After removing metal siding, the investigator reported that “fire damage was visible from the ground level into the void space between the metal wall covering and the original building. … Both the composite wood and wood framing was heavily damaged at ground level and evenly damaged on the interior facing side indicating fire spreading from the ground level upward.”
The report also included interviews with those who worked at the shop. They noted the patio area was often a place for employees to take lunch breaks during weekdays. No one reported seeing anyone smoke in that area that weekend before the fire.
“Copious amounts of water used during the fire attack washed a large portion of the mulch and other ground cover away from the building,” the investigator stated in the report. “I was unable to identify smoking materials in the area of origin but did see smoking materials on the grounds of the brick patio. The area of origin was the east side exterior of the building below the stairs. The mulch bed and ground cover is the specific area of origin.”
The report states the case is closed with no further investigate actions to be performed.