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Question: With at least two recent fires caused by vehicles, what can/should vehicle owners do to prevent their vehicles from starting fires?
— Lompoc resident Aimee Strub
A vehicle driving on Highway 1 caused the 77-acre Cruces Fire that started July 18 and a tractor working in a field started the 110-acre Windmill Fire near Buellton, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Department investigators.
The One Less Spark program gives tips on equipment use, debris burning, campfires and vehicle maintenance to prevent causing wildfires.
Vehicle maintenance tips to avoid causing wildfires include:
» Make sure there are no loose chains or dragging parts on the vehicle, which can cause sparks
» Regularly check tire pressure, since exposed rims can throw sparks
» Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle
» Avoid parking on dry grass or brush, or other flammable material, since hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires
There are also steps drivers can take to avoid vehicle fires, which can spread to vegetation or nearby structures.
The National Fire Protection Agency estimates that vehicle fires are involved with 10 percent of all fires.
Tips to prevent vehicle fires include:
» Conduct regular maintenance
» Many car fluids are flammable, so stay alert for leaks
» Do not store gasoline, propane or other flammable material inside the vehicle
» Do not smoke inside the vehicle
» Avoid parking on or near flammable materials
— Noozhawk intern Dhiraj Nallapaneni can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.