Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Neil Young warehouse fire caused by hybrid car

Authorities have determined the cause of the three-alarm warehouse fire last week at a San Carlos, California warehouse filled with Neil Young's music equipment, vintage cars and other memorabilia, which caused an estimated $1.1 million in damage.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports an investigation determined that the fire started in a 1959 Lincoln Continental and spread to the warehouse.

Young had outfitted the car with electric batteries and a biodiesel-powered generator, as part of his company called LincVolt. The company promotes the conversion of gas-guzzling cars into vehicles that run on alternative energy.

In a 2008 interview, Young said his dream was to inspire people to repower or retrofit their existing cars, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing the world's manufacturing footprint in the process. He had already converted two of his other cars, a Mercedes-Benz and a Hummer, to run on used vegetable oil.

Young said he bought his Lincoln in the East Bay "about 15 years ago, after it had been in a domestic dispute. The guy's wife had poured hydraulic fluid all over it."

For short trips, the converted car got around 40 mpg, compared with 9 or 10 for the original, gas-powered model, Young said.

The LincVolt had been severely damaged in the fire, the singer-songwriter said in a statement.

"We are still investigating the exact cause, although it appears to be an operator error that occurred in an untested part of the charging system," Young said. "We do know that the car has been operating perfectly for almost 2,000 miles and the system in question would not be in use while driving the car. We are investigating the components involved with plug-in charging."

For more, see the San Francisco Chronicle article here.

Neil Young – Long May You Run
Farm Aid 25
Miller Park – Milwaukee, WI - October 2, 2010.