This October 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Piper Cherokee; Location: Salt Lake City, Utah; Injuries: None; Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot taxied to the run-up area and shut down the engine to retrieve items from the baggage compartment. After he restarted the engine he felt heat and saw flames coming from the lower portion of the engine cowling. He was able to escape the burning aircraft.
The post-accident investigation determined that the fuel line fitting from the gascolator to the fuel pump leaked. The source of ignition for the fire could not be determined. The aircraft’s logbooks did not show any recent maintenance on the fuel system.
Probable cause: The leak at the fuel line fitting, which resulted in a fire during engine start.