On Friday, June 6 at 2:58 p.m., the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department received a report of a vehicle fire in Utica Township, on Highway 27 at the intersection with Johnstown Road.
A 2004 Mercury van owned and operated by Michelle Garland-Stern of Postville, Iowa was southbound on Highway 27. The driver said she heard a “pop,” looked back, and saw smoke. She stopped the van. She and her 11 and 12-year-old passengers exited the van before the van was engulfed in flame.
The Seneca Fire Department had difficulty extinguishing the fire due to a full gas tank which kept re-igniting. The fire was burning the highway surface so the fire department members enlisted a farmer and his tractor to roll the van off the highway and into the ditch where the fire was finally extinguished.
Highway 27 was partially blocked for approximately an hour and a half.