Student Pulled out of Class After Jeep Catches Fire

No one was injured, but the vehicle was a loss


A 2000 Jeep Cherokee caught fire in Parking Lot 3 while its owner, Michael Padula, was in class. No one was injured, Suffolk police said. (Photo courtesy of Michael Padula)

Jarrick Ambrose, Staff Writer

Less than 20 minutes into a lecture on the fundamentals of speech etiquette in the 9:30 a.m. Introduction to Human Communications on March 28, students were interrupted when a Suffolk County police officer knocked on the door of Islip Arts Room 109.

“Is there a Michael Padula here?” the officer asked.

Padula, a 19-year-old general studies major from Centereach, raised his hand. He was asked to grab his things and followed the officer.

Within earshot of students and still within view of the class, the officer notified Padula that likely wouldn’t be returning back to the classroom because his 2000 Jeep Cherokee caught on fire.

“He was unbelievably calm for someone who just found out their car was on fire,” said classmate Veronica Smith, of Port Jefferson, a 19-year-old liberal arts major. 

Suffolk police said a call came in at 9:45 a.m. about a 2000 Jeep on fire in a parking lot at the Ammerman campus. There were no injuries and the fire marshal responded.

Despite his nonchalant demeanor, Padula said was shocked when he arrived at the scene, just in time to see two firefighters extinguishing what was left of the fire. The fire left the hood and everything underneath burned to a crisp, including the two front tires, rendering the vehicle a total loss. 

“I don’t know exactly why the car blew up, but I suspect it was an oil leak,” said Padula. “My family and I did some research and found out that 2000 Jeep Cherokees are being recalled for that exact reason.” 

Padula said nothing of personal value was lost in the fire.