SENNETT — A load of junk vehicles went up in flames at a Cayuga County scrapyard Tuesday morning.

An emergency call came in at about 10:45 a.m. for a vehicle on fire inside a tractor trailer at Pick-N-Pull Auto Parts & Recycling Center on North Street Road in Sennett, just north of the city of Auburn.

It was later reported that as many as 18 vehicles on the truck were burning, and several fire crews were called to the scene, including fire departments from Sennett, Auburn, Throop and Port Byron. State police and the Cayuga County Sheriff's office were also on the scene.

The fire started with a stack of about five or six vehicles on the ground and then made its way to the vehicles in the trailer, Sennett Fire Department Chief Sean Holmes said on the scene. He said the cause of the fire was unknown, but the cars being transported should have been drained of all fluids. 

Once the larger flames were under control, a crane operator worked to empty the tractor trailer of the cars, scattering them on the ground or stacking them on top of other demolished vehicles. Firefighters spent time focusing on individual vehicles to make sure all the flames were put out. As they hosed off the vehicles, gray, brown and white smoked billowed into the air. The transport truck appeared undamaged. 

At least once, firefighters gave attention to a burning vehicle while it was still suspended in the air by the clutches of the crane. The crane picked up some cars to turn them over so firefighters could attack both sides. 

Around noon, fire chiefs walked through the vehicles stacked and scattered on the ground to make sure all the flames were out. Two cars were subsequently separated from the rest by the crane to be hosed down again by firefighters.

Holmes said the fire was under control in about 30 to 45 minutes. He was unsure what the cost of the damage was. 

“The nice part about this is (the cars) were garbage before they started on fire,“ Auburn Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Grady said.

The truck driver declined to comment. An owner or manager of Pick-N-Pull was not available for comment when The Citizen was on the scene. 

North Street Road (Route 34) was closed to traffic between York Street and Turnpike Road as firefighting efforts continued until after noon. The road was reopened and crews were cleared from the scene at about 12:35 p.m.

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Staff writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or megan.ehrhart@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.