Vehicles have been the cause of some of California’s largest, most expensive fires, including the 2017 Carr Fire near Redding. Costing more than $1.6 billion, the Carr Fire started when a trailer blowout caused the metal rim to spark, igniting roadside vegetation. More recently, Cal Fire officials said a diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system was to blame for starting the Apple Fire near Banning late last month.
With temperatures in many parts of Southern California expected to be in the mid-90s to low 100s, the Automobile Club of Southern California offers the following tips to help vehicle owners prevent wildfires:
Stay on Paved Surfaces
If you need to pull over, stay on paved surfaces to avoid dry vegetation.
Don’t park on the side of the road where flammables, including dry grass, may reach hot parts of the vehicle, including the muffler or catalytic converter.
Practice safe towing. Dragging chains throws sparks. Use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball to secure chains.
No Dragging Parts
Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground, such as a loose muffler or cables.
Check Tire Condition and Pressure
Be sure your tires have sufficient tread and aren’t too worn. If they blowout, driving on an exposed tire rim can throw sparks. Maintain proper tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can cause more friction which can lead to a blowout.
Carry a Fire Extinguisher
Learn how to use a fire extinguisher and get one for your vehicle.
Properly Maintain Brakes
Brakes worn too thin may cause metal to metal contact, which can cause a spark.
Look for Fluid Leaks
If you spot leaks, get them checked out. Most vehicle fluids are flammable. Heat and electrical sparks that touch leaking fluid can ignite a fire. When driving, look for rapid changes in fuel or fluid level or increased engine temperature which may indicated a leak.
Avoid Transporting Gasoline In Your Vehicle
If you must carry gasoline, take only a small amount in a certified, sealed gas can and place the container in the trunk of your car or in the bed of your truck – never in the passenger compartment.
Don’t drive intoxicated. Don’t drive intexticated. Keep your eyes on the road to avoid crashes and pay attention to other drivers.
Keep the Vehicle Maintained
Have the vehicle regularly serviced by a trained mechanic. They can spot cracked or loose wires and hoses, oil or fluid leaks,
If the Car Catches Fire
Pull over quickly and safely. Once stopped, turn off the engine and get everybody out of the vehicle. Call 911. If you have a fire extinguisher and can use it safely, attempt to put out the fire.
For more information on preventing fires click the following links:
National Fire Protection Association: