December 17, 1998

Car Fire Rattles White House Nerves

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A car fire inside the secure White House compound rattled nerves when it broke out shortly after the U.S. attack on Iraq.

The fire, apparently caused by an electrical shortage in the four-door 1989 Cadillac sedan, was extinguished by District of Columbia firefighters within minutes of President Clinton's address Wednesday evening to the nation on the Iraq bombing.

The unidentified owner, a personal guest of the White House chief of protocol, was attending a holiday function at Blair House across the street from the White House's North Lawn.

The car owner had been authorized to park within the security barricades on Pennsylvania Avenue, said Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin.

White House spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said the mishap was completely "unrelated to recent actions in Iraq."