Vehicle goes off road on Perkins Way, crashes and burns in McAleer creek

Friday, July 26, 2013

Charred vehicle pulled from McAleer Creek
Photo courtesy City of Lake Forest Park

Early Friday morning a 2008 Volkswagen Beetle carrying three individuals careened off a residential street in Lake Forest Park at high speed and was engulfed in flames in McAleer Creek.

Chief Steve Sutton said Lake Forest Park Police were called to the 18100 block of NE Perkins Way just after 4am on Friday. He said initial estimates of the speed were over 60 mph in a posted 25 mph zone.

Responding officers found three people who had managed to escape the vehicle after it came to rest on its wheels in the creek and almost immediately caught on fire.

When the Lake Forest Park Police department arrived, all three occupants were walking away from the vehicle. By then, the vehicle was fully engulfed by fire and the Northshore Fire Department was notified.

The responding officers remained in the location as the vehicle burned ferociously. At one point, there was nearly 80 feet of flame extending down the creek away from the vehicle, likely gasoline on the surface of the creek. Within minutes, the gas tank ruptured and the fire grew stronger. Tires also began to burn and pop. 

Fire Department crews arrived promptly, and put out the fire, Sutton said. The Public Works Crew were also notified and responded immediately by deploying as series of downstream oil/chemical absorbent booms and erosion control measures while also performing a downstream search for signs of stream contamination. The vehicle also damaged the stream banks in two places as it left the roadway.

Public Works removing contaminated sediment
Photo courtesy City of Lake Forest Park

A search downstream from the vehicle did not reveal additional contamination, said Public Works Superintendent, Scott Walker. Public Works removed all of the contaminated sediment in the area of the fire and swept the street to collected debris related to the accident and response.

Contamination of the creek was contained as much as possible, Walker said. But it is likely that petroleum, fire byproducts, fire response chemicals and other engine fluids contaminated the stream flow.

The City has reported this release of chemicals to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Washington Department of Ecology.


Janet Way July 27, 2013 at 5:18 AM  

This is sickening. I'm glad that the people were not injured, but the damage to the creek habitat is extensive. This is a strong salmon stream. Even Chinook have used this habitat. The drivers should be fined for this environmental devastation!

Anonymous,  July 27, 2013 at 7:57 AM  

Janet, didn't you get the memo? These folks are illegal aliens, so all is forgiven. Just send the bill to the shoreline taxpayers.

Anonymous,  July 27, 2013 at 9:55 AM  

@Anonymouse - check your facts again, it was LFP. And exactly where has it been reported they were undocumented? You must not have got the memo that in Shoreline the public works director is Mark Relph.

Anonymous,  July 28, 2013 at 7:41 AM  

The city should bill the driver for all of the costs incurred to clean up this mess.

Anonymous,  July 28, 2013 at 10:39 AM  

Having grown up on Perkins way, I can tell you that cars ending up in McAleer is not uncommon. At least 1 - 2 cars a year end up in the stream. Almost always related to going too fast by younger drivers. What IS different about this story, is the fact that car caught fire and the leaking fuel fire spread down stream.

Anonymous,  July 28, 2013 at 10:52 AM  

Why doesn't everyone just say, "Thank God the kids didn't get killed" Wow, when I first saw the car I would have never believed anyone would walk away!

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