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Car Extinguishers And Old Glory: No Answers For Arson

Jul 18, 2008
A car extinguisher, handy as it is, isn't meant for fighting a large industrial fire. And that's exactly the type of fire that swept through Boise, Idaho's Access Auto Repair on a hot Monday night in late June of 2008. Admittedly, the damage was limited: only a two-alarm fire, according to authorities, with only about fifteen minutes required to contain the blaze. But why did the fire begin in the first place? And what, if anything, did the large American flag painted on the roof of the dealership have to do with the whole thing?

Adding to suspicions is the fact that the American flag on the roof of Access Auto Repair wasn't just any American flag. The flag was painted in 2006 by artist Scott LoBaido, a New Yorker with an axe to grind. At the time, sentiments against the ongoing Iraq conflict were steadily becoming louder and louder, and the international reputation of the United States was the lowest it had been in decades. What was worse, in LoBaido's eyes, the reputation of the United States according to its young people was equally as low. LoBaido, a classic patriot, decided he would change that.

LoBaido toured the United States starting in 2006 with the stated goal of painting an American flag on fifty rooftops in fifty states. Each flag is a gigantic rooftop mural, the product of many hours of work. For his efforts, LoBaido was given a national platform to express his ideas, with a documentary about the artist currently in the works and appearances on major right-wing television and radio stations around the country.

And it's one of those fifty famous flags that would have been destroyed by the fire.

In order to contain the fire, fighters had to cut a hole in the roof, directly in the middle of LoBaido's mural an act, however obliquely and justifiably, of flag desecration. If LoBaido has made any comment on the incident, the local press has yet to report on it.

So we're left with questions. Was this an accidental fire? LoBaido's political views and project are both well known around the country. And if there was a person behind this fire, they would have had to know that the roof would need to be damaged in order to fight it, or that the roof would be a direct target. It's of course possible that it was all a coincidence.

Fire fighters still haven't commented on the likely cause of the fire, which, although modest, was still too large to be fought from inside with a few handy car extinguishers. One thing is certain at present, however: the mysterious "flag fire" raises more questions than it answers.
About the Author
Car fire extinguishers in both powder and foam are suitable for all vehicle types. See more at www.FireProtectionOnline.co.uk
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