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Madison fire truck tight crop

A station wagon that caught fire in the West Towne Mall parking lot on Tuesday was deemed a total loss, but nobody was hurt in the blaze.

The fire was reported at about 12:40 p.m. outside the Cheesecake Factory on the mall's east side, the Madison Fire Department said.

Spokeswoman Cynthia Schuster said firefighters from Ladder Co. 7 could see a plume of gray-white smoke blocks away.

"As firefighters pulled up to the Saturn station wagon, heavy smoke was found coming from the engine compartment but no flames were immediately seen," Schuster said.

Water poured on the hood and wheel wells cooled the car and put out the fire.

Several cars parked nearby were not damaged by the fire.

"The owner of the car said she'd just stepped out to buy some coffee and noticed smoke coming from the vehicle," Schuster said. "When she opened the hood she saw fire and smoke, and called 911."

The cause of the fire is unknown. The vehicle, which wasn't insured, was considered a total loss.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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