Toward the end of April 2020, Spokane fire crews combatted a fire that began in a car trunk before spreading to the side of a home. Fortunately, crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire, and there was no additional damage in the home. Also, no one was injured as a result of the fire. Additional details including the cause of the fire are still under investigation.
Based on data collected by the National Fire Protection Agency, approximately 20% of all fires handled by fire departments are vehicle fires. This equates to approximately 150,000 vehicle fires each year. Considering this high rate of occurrence, all drivers should understand some basics about the danger presented by vehicle fires.
How Vehicle Fire Occurs
With few exceptions, vehicles operate with the assistance of highly flammable liquids. Given the risk of liquids like diesel fuel and gasoline, it is critical that a high degree of care is exercised while designing and manufacturing vehicles.
Despite this need for diligence, many vehicle fires are caused by defects that result in fuel leaks, defects that cause fuel to siphon, improperly placed fuel tanks, and gas tank filler neck defects. To decrease the risk of injury from fires, many vehicles contain firewalls between the engine and the motorist's legs which protect flames from injuring vehicle occupants.
Even firewalls, however, are not able to prevent smoke from fires from filling vehicle interiors. Consequently, many motorists die each year from smoke inhalation from vehicle fires even though the actual fire is adequately controlled.
The Severity of Vehicle Fires
When vehicles catch on fire, occupants are at a much greater risk of being seriously injured. The US Fire Administration reports that between 2014 to 2016, approximately 171,500 highway vehicle fires occurred, resulting in an average of 345 deaths each year.
If a vehicle fire occurs, occupants are at an elevated risk of being seriously injured. Given this elevated risk, it is critical to understand how to respond if a vehicle catches fire. Riders should remember to:
- Be on the lookout for early signs of vehicle fires including fuses that repeatedly blow, oil or other leaking fluids, loose wiring, and rapid changes in any of the vehicle's fuel levels or its engine temperature.
- Promptly stop the vehicle and turn off its ignition.
- Make sure that any occupants in the vehicle leave the car. You should also prevent anyone from going back into the vehicle to retrieve anything.
- Move away from the vehicle to avoid both flames and fumes.
- Contact emergency workers.
- If the vehicle is still in traffic, take steps to notify others.
Speak with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a car fire that was caused by someone else's negligence, you can suddenly find yourself facing many unforeseen complications including large medical bills and lost wages.
Fortunately, an experienced car accident attorney can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact West Law Office today to schedule a free case evaluation.