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There’s something very odd about this story of a fire at a SpaceX facility in Florida

Published Jul 9th, 2019 8:08PM EDT

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A fire at a SpaceX prototyping facility on Monday did as much as $100,000 in damage, according to reports from local news sources and agencies quoting fire department estimates. The fire, which occurred at SpaceX location in Cocoa, Florida, is interesting in its own right, but the initial report actually raises more questions than it answers.

Florida Today, which quotes both SpaceX spokesperson James Gleeson and Cocoa city spokesperson Yvonne Martinez in its report, notes that fire crews initially placed the estimate for damages at a whopping $650,000, but walked back that number after learning that the fire that broke out on Monday wasn’t the first fire at the facility.

“This afternoon, a small fire occurred at a SpaceX facility in Cocoa,” SpaceX’s Gleeson told the news outlet. “The fire was contained to a sea van on site and extinguished thanks to the Cocoa Fire Department, which responded within minutes.”

Nobody was hurt in the fire and the blaze was apparently isolated to a shipping container, both of which are good news. However, it’s this little tidbit from the Florida Today report that makes the mind wander:

Martinez said the fire department estimates about $50,000 to $100,000 in damages were sustained by the shipping container and equipment inside, as well as the adjacent building. Crews had estimated $650,000 early on, but that was due to previous damages caused by another fire at some point.

“Another fire”? We have to assume the local fire department would be pretty knowledgable about the fires it fights, and would know if it had been to SpaceX’s facility to fight a fire that did as much as $600,000 worth of damage previous to the fire it fought on Monday.

SpaceX didn’t comment on the previous fire in its statement regarding the one that occurred on Monday, and it’s unclear from any of the local reports whether or not SpaceX knew about the previous fire or not. You’d have to imagine a fire that did that much damage would have caught someone’s eye and, presumably, prompted calls to the local fire department, but maybe not?

In any case, it’s all very strange and we’ll be watching to see if SpaceX offers any additional information.

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