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Motor Vehicle Fires can be DANGEROUS

Fires in motor vehicles can produce toxic gases. Automobiles, trucks, and other motor vehicles are made of many synthetic materials that emit harmful, if not deadly gases when they burn. A main by-product of fires is a lethal concentration of carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas.

Fire can cause fatal or debilitating burn injuries. A vehicle fire can generate heat upwards of 1500°F. Keep in mind that water boils at 212°F, and that most foods are cooked at temperatures of less than 500°F Flames from burning vehicles can often shoot out distances of 10 feet or more.

Parts of the vehicle can burst because of heat, shooting debris great distances. Bumper and hatchback door struts, two-piece tire rims, magnesium wheels, drive shafts, grease seals, axle, and engine parts, all can become lethal. Vehicle fires may also cause air bags to deploy.

Although relatively rare, gas tanks of motor vehicles can rupture and spray flammable fuel, posing a clear potential for serious injury. In even more extraordinary instances, gas tanks have been known to explode. Hazardous materials, such as battery acid, can cause injury even without burning.

Vehicle fires are so dangerous that firefighters wear full protective fire resistant clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus to keep themselves safe. They also have the ability to quickly put out vehicle fires with large amounts of water or other extinguishing agents. You don't have these safety advantages so use extra caution. Motor vehicle fires can be dangerous.

Information on this page reproduced with permission from the NFPA website,
2006, National Fire Protection Association. All materials on NFPA's websites are the property of the NFPA and may not be copied, reproduced, sold or distributed without the express permission of the copyright holder. Liberal use of NFPA fact sheets and news releases is allowable with attribution.