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blog Auto Accident The Excitement (and Danger) of Car Fires

The Excitement (and Danger) of Car Fires

By Car Accident Help on September 30, 2017

garage-1837336_1920People who have not witnessed a car fire may think that they only occur in the movies.

Unfortunately, vehicle fires are not an uncommon occurrence. National Fire Protection Association data indicates that fire crews were called to roughly 174,000 car fires last year and that 445 of those resulted in a fatality. In Oklahoma, of all deaths that were a result of fires, approximately 17% involved vehicles, which is over 5% higher than the national average. The latest national data tells us the following:

  • One of every seven fires involves a motor vehicle.
  • About 10% of deaths by fire involve motor vehicles.
  • Most years, over 300 people die and over 1,200 are injured in vehicular fires.
  • 4% of injuries to firefighters are attributed to fires involving vehicles.

The NFPA data explains that the leading causes of highway vehicle fires are:

  • A mechanical problem or failure (49%)
  • An electrical problem or failure (23%)
  • Intentionally started (8%)
  • The result of a collision (3%)
  • Exposure to an external fire (5%)

Warning Signs for Potential Fire

  • A pattern of blown fuses
  • The presence of a leak underneath the vehicle
  • Wiring that is frayed, loosening, or showing exposed metal
  • Dramatic shifts in oil pressure, level of fuel, or temperature
  • Damaged hoses
  • Exhaust system emitting loud sounds

Characteristics of Motor Vehicle Fires

Cars contain many chemicals that are capable of generating toxic gases when exposed to fire.

Vehicle fires are known to create dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, which is not easily detectable based on its lack of odor or color.

One common injury that results from these fires is burns, because the temperature can exceed 1,000 degrees. Vehicles that are ablaze can have flames extending outward for approximately 10 feet. Certain parts are capable of bursting at high temperatures and can disperse dangerous debris.

What to Do If Your Car Catches Fire

In the unlikely event that you are in a vehicle on fire, it is best to stay calm and park the vehicle. Turn off the ignition and exit the car. Avoid ingesting smoke and fumes and call 911. Attempting to fight the fire yourself is not recommended. Any open windows, doors, or hoods may allow more oxygen to circulate, which will fuel the blaze—so don’t open them thinking it will help. Contact your insurance company regarding a claim.

Questions about a car fire? Have you been hurt in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident? Oklahoma law allows for those injured as a result of the negligent or careless action of another to seek financial compensation through civil action. Contact Car Accident Help today at (405) 285-4357 for a free consultation.


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Attorney L. Ray Maples II wrote Don't Wreck Twice with the intent of offering guidance and information to vehicle wreck victims. The book provides answers to some of the most important and frequently asked questions following an Oklahoma vehicle collision, which will be an invaluable resource to those involved in auto accidents.