MARION — Rain, sleet and snow won't stop mail carriers from their appointed rounds.
But throw some fire at them, and now we've found the element that keeps the mail from getting through.
Shortly before 1 p.m. June 10, a call came though dispatch concerning a vehicle on fire in the 5900 block of Olmsted County Road 16 Southeast.
Stewartville Fire Chief Vance Swisher said that when his crews arrived they found a silver 2013 Dodge Caravan fully engulfed in flames with the driver standing nearby.
The 22-year-old male driver was on the last leg of his mail delivery route. The man is a rural delivery driver for the United States Post Office, and, according to an Olmsted County Sheriff's Office report, was on his way to the last house on his route when his minivan caught fire.
By the time sheriff's deputies arrived at 1:36 p.m., the fire was out but the minivan and everything in it – including those pieces of mail for the last house on the route – were charred beyond saving.
According to fire personnel, the fire appeared to have started in the engine compartment and there was nothing suspicious regarding the origins of it.
"The problem with this fire, with the amount of damage, is we'll never be able to determine the cause of the fire," Swisher said. "Whether it was electrical or a fuel line, we'll never know."
While the car and whatever letters or packages were left were a complete loss, Swisher said no one was hurt.
Nicole Hill, communication specialist with the Northland & Hawkeye District of the United States Postal Service, said because the fire impacted just a lone customer, the post office would reach out to them and let them know to beware of any expected letters or packages not showing up.
Furthermore, USPS would, if necessary, issue that customer a letter stating what had happened in case they needed proof for reimbursement of postage or insurance purposes for any packages.
In an instance like this, Hill said, if any packages were insured through the post office and a tracking number showed they had been lost, the post office would pay out that insurance claim.