SEATAC, Wash. - Eight cars were destroyed and 10 others were damaged when a fire broke out in the Sea-Tac Airport parking garage.
The fire on the sixth floor of the garage was reported at 6:45 a.m. Tuesday when a officer in the garage noticed smoke and rushed to the area.
He was met by a wall of flames and smoke, but was able to get close enough to determine that no one was in the vehicles.
KIRO 7 News video showed firefighters in the garage where cars were charred and smoldering.
The cars were parked in Row C of the north end of the sixth floor near the blue elevator.
The fire is believed to be caused by a mechanical failure. There are no signs of foul play.
Airport staff will use license plates to contact the vehicles' owners.
Some vehicle owners found out themselves, seeing video and pictures of their cars online.
Christina posted on Facebook , "You can see my car in the pics. Yay - welcome back present when I get to the airport tomorrow. "
Besides the 18 cars most seriously damaged, dozens more were coated in soot and likely have smoke damage.
The Port of Seattle put letters on the windshields of all of those vehicles explaining what happened.
An airport spokesman said early damage estimates were at $250,000.
No one was hurt.
The fire also set off warning signals for security officials.
"We've got to make sure when we see any kinds of incidents, they might not be connected to anything else domestically or internationally,” said Perry Cooper, Airport Spokesperson.
Federal agencies including the FBI, Homeland Security, and Transportation Security Administration were notified.
Fire investigators later determined there was no security threat. They believe a mechanical problem in a BMW sparked the fire. The driver parked Tuesday morning, and the fire possibly spread through an oil or gasoline leak.
"This situation .. we didn't see any more kind of red flag, terrorist situation because it's in the middle of a garage, away from a terminal,” said Cooper. “There did not appear to be any kind of explosion or detonation, anything like that."
The garage has no sprinkler systems, so airport firefighters rely on a stand pipe system, vertical pipes that run up through the structure.
Fire trucks hook up to those pipes at the base and pump-in the water, and then firefighters on each floor hook up hoses to the valves to get that water to fight the flames.
"The airport has a lot of security, but we don't have surveillance cameras in the garage," said Cooper.
"Why?,” asked Schugel.
“You know, if we had unlimited money, I'm sure that would be something we'd look at," said Cooper.
Cooper said thousands of cameras would be needed to cover a garage with 13,000 parking spaces.
He also notes that the garage has very low crime.
"This is very unusual for us,” he said.
It's the first time fire's destroyed multiple cars at Sea-Tac Airport, inside the world's largest parking garage under one roof.