Vehicle fires are more common in the summer months when engines can more easily overheat and drivers sometimes pay less attention to maintenance.
With the many visitors to the Eastern Sierra during the summer, it’s a timely reminder that many wildfires are also caused by vehicles being in accidents while driving through wilderness areas and driving off-road onto dry vegetation.
Vehicles are the third leading cause of wildfires, even more so than lightning and camp fires, according to a 2017 study from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).
The recent vehicle fire in Benton, although on the highway, is a reminder that it is important to keep your car in good mechanical condition and keep a fire extinguisher in the car. This is especially true when traveling in remote forested areas or areas with dry vegetation where a fire might be ignited by a vehicle’s catalytic converter.
While a catalytic converter itself won’t burst into flames, it can become a fire hazard. An overheated catalytic converter can ignite surrounding flammable materials while it’s running hot. Under normal circumstances, catalytic converters operate within a temperature range of 1,200 to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit.
As for the vehicle fire posted on the White Mountain Fire Department Facebook page, on Wednesday, May 27, WMFD units were dispatched to a fully engulfed vehicle fire with possible explosives on board this afternoon.
Upon arrival, a fully involved Nevada State Trooper unit was in the middle of the highway at Montgomery Pass.
It was later determined that the explosives were ammunition and road flares.
Engine 33 and 31 quickly extinguished the fire and the vehicle was removed from the roadway.
Thankfully, no one was hurt and there was no extension into the wildland areas. -WMFD Facebook Post
[SWM Note: A special note of thanks to the special men and women firefighters in both Inyo and Mono counties that are prepared to risk their lives everyday to ensure the safety of all of us that live here in the Eastern Sierra, as well are for the many visitors to the area. THANK YOU!]