No injuries in fire at Gibbs Racing

Updated: February 4, 2011, 1:35 PM ET
By Ryan McGee | ESPN The Magazine

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Fire caused significant damage to the engine department inside Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters Friday. No injuries were reported.

The incident initially was described as an explosion, but a spokesperson for the Huntersville Fire Department termed it a "significant flash fire" similar to an explosion because most of the damage was done initially.

According to a JGR team spokesperson, at about 9 a.m. ET, members of the team's engine department were running a routine test on one of two engine dynamometers. Dynamometers are machines used to run an engine through its paces to measure power and performance under the strain of race conditions.

A source within Gibbs' team says that it was during this test session that one of the engines exploded. The resulting fire damaged the dynamometer on which is was mounted and caused at least some damage to a second dynamometer located in an adjacent room.

The JGR spokesperson confirmed that the fire was contained within the two-room area of the engine dyno department, which is part of the team's 235,000-square-foot facility.

The spokesperson for the Huntersville Fire Department said the windows of the dyno chamber were still intact.

The main shop floor and second-floor offices continued business as usual shortly after the initial fire alarm sounded. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.

Roughly an hour after the incident, team members received clearance from firefighters to re-enter the shop to assess damage. The JGR spokesperson described most of the damage as being caused by smoke and water from the brief firefighting effort.

The engine that exploded was not in the team's plans for Daytona Speedweeks, which begin Feb. 11, but the engine mounted on the second damaged dynamometer was. The initial concern for the second engine wasn't fire damage, but rather water damage.

Ryan McGee covers NASCAR for ESPN The Magazine.

Ryan McGee | email

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