UAW Fire Update: Still Looking Somewhat Sketchy

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
uaw fire update still looking somewhat sketchy

The Detroit Fire Department has been going back and forth on the July 13th fire at the United Automobile Workers’ headquarters since its investigation began. Arson was initially on the table before being swiftly ruled out, and the probe continued by private investigators contending with insurance claims, seemingly free of suspicion.

Investigators now believe the fire could have been set intentionally, without attaching any conviction to those claims.

“I was told at the time that they did not think it was arson,” Detroit Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Dave Fornell told Automotive News in an interview from Monday. “That wasn’t a final verdict … When I did some inquiries with the press, I asked investigators and they were saying at that point it was ruled out.”

From Automotive News:

The fire at the UAW took place amid a broadening federal investigation into corruption at the highest levels of the union’s leadership. Gary Jones has since resigned as UAW president and was replaced last month by Rory Gamble. Altogether, 13 union and Fiat Chrysler officials have been charged with crimes; 11 have pleaded guilty.

That timing served to make the whole event suspicious; plenty of unsubstantiated claims arose that a hypothetical arsonist could have been trying to destroy evidence. But justice cannot be sussed out via speculation and real evidence may still be forthcoming. The FBI subpoenaed the UAW for visitor logs and security camera footage in the days proceeding the fire at the union’s HQ, which were turned over in August.

“The Department of Justice is very suspicious about that fire if they’re asking for video and visitor logs. They’re concerned records may have been destroyed in the fire, and God forbid if it was arson,” Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor, told The Detroit News last week. “If evidence was destroyed, that’s obstruction of justice.”

While the status of the FBI’s investigation remains less than clear, the local probe is still open with little to no interdepartmental contact with the feds. “The FBI has never contacted me regarding this fire and have not taken over the origin and cause investigation,” Copley said on Monday. “If the FBI is independently investigating the fire, I have no knowledge of the extent of that investigation.”

[Image: James R. Martin/Shutterstock]

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  • 3SpeedAutomatic Auto insurance renewal every six months. Ten year old car, good driving record, own my own home, excellent credit score, no teenagers on the policy, etc, etc, etc.Yet, I pay thru the nose!!!!!Adds on the morning news brag about $500k settlements.I paid less when I lived in New York State.
  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
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  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
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