News about a home garage fire in Barkhamsted, Conn. has prompted pundits to show their stripes as either for or against GM, the Volt, electric cars and other somewhat related subjects.

Straight news stories over the weekend were more fair minded – as they should be – but opinions also flared, some with a rhetorical intensity seemingly greater than the actual damage the Volt allegedly caused.

Likewise, those in favor of the proposed roll out of electric vehicles urged benefit of the doubt.


The award-winning Volt has its share of critics too.

In fact, while GM-Volt.com is in this latter category, waiting and seeing is the only intellectually honest position. In the absence of evidence to do otherwise, it is what the authorities are doing.

As of this writing, nothing has been reported as to what caused a garage fire containing an electrically converted 1987 Suzuki Samurai SUV and a 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

The house in which the blaze occurred belongs to Storm and Dee Connors. They reported the fire around 4:15 a.m. Thursday. A firewall prevented the rest of the house from catching fire.

Connors is himself a volunteer firefighter. He converted the Samurai years ago, and said he did not think the electric vehicles caused the fire.

This did not stop criticism from heating up from such sources as the National Legal and Policy Center which made inductive leaps broader than a fire break dug to contain a spreading wildfire.

From a fallacious springboard, a screed ensued about GM's quality, taxpayer-supported bailouts, and more, prompted only by a supposition about the house fire that has yet to be proven.

Other reports, such as by the UK’s Daily Mail also cast doubt on electric vehicles with the title “So much for carbon footprint: Green driver's hybrid cars may have sparked garage fire.”


Of course it is their right by the First Amendment to editorialize all they wish, but so much for being innocent until proven guilty – note also that one of the more severe verbal lashings was published by a legal advocacy group.

On the other side of the fence, GM spokesman Rob Peterson was quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying, "We suspect the Volt was more the victim of the fire than the cause."

Actually, when we called Peterson Friday, he broached the subject, and made sure we knew where things stood, saying he knew GM-Volt’s readers will want to know.

“Everybody seems to be leaping to this conclusion, that it is somehow related to the Volt,” Peterson said, “Let’s let the experts do their jobs. Let’s let the fire marshal determine this. There’s a lot of circumstances that go into this. And there’s a lot of engineering that went in the Chevrolet Volt.”

Peterson said Global Electric Vehicle Executive, Doug Parks wrote a statement on behalf of Chevrolet, but one can nonetheless observe how polarizing the Volt has been from this incident.

“You can already see some of the right wing pundits lining up, trying to take their jabs without even waiting to hear from the fire marshal,” Peterson said.


Although it is still under investigation, the Connecticut fire in which a Volt and a home-made EV were burned prompted Chevrolet Volt Global Vehicle Line Executive Doug Parks to reiterate the company's safety commitment.

Larry Gillen, fire chief for the Village of Riverton, one of the communities that responded to the fire, told the Detroit Free Press no cause has yet been determined.

He said GM will be sending its own investigator as well.

It is possible the house wiring was overloaded by two EVs charging at once. It is possible something did go wrong with either the Volt or Samurai.

We don’t know. So far all we have seen for certain is that some people’s passions are smoldering under the surface – more ready to flare up than dry brush in a desert.