Get ready for that summer road trip: Make sure your ride doesn’t spark wildfires

  • Wed Aug 12th, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by Pacific Wild Fires Coordinating Group.

As many people in the Pacific Northwest head out for summer road trips, the Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group offers the reminder that vehicles can spark wildfires during the hot and dry months of summer.

“This year, many families will choose to take road trips for their summer vacations,” says Lauren Maloney, Chair of the PNWCG Communication, Prevention and Investigation Committee.

As of Aug. 6th, there have been 1,983 wildfires in Oregon and Washington, and 85 percent of them have been human caused.

Under hot, dry conditions, all types of motorized vehicles can ignite a wildfire. Follow these basic safety tips when you ride or drive to keep an enjoyable outing from turning into a costly, damaging wildfire:

Ensure all parts of your vehicle are secure and not touching the ground. A loose safety tow chain or muffler dragging on pavement can send a shower of sparks into dry vegetation, igniting not one but several wildfires along a roadside.

Check your tire pressure and look for signs of wear. Once a flat tire shreds, the bare wheel on pavement can cast sparks onto roadside vegetation. This scenario has resulted in numerous Pacific Northwest wildfires. Poorly lubricated wheel bearings can overheat and ignite, and the metal-on-metal contact of a worn-out brake can emit sparks.

Maintain and clean exhaust systems and spark arrestors so they are undamaged and functioning properly.

A running vehicle’s exhaust system can reach temperatures up to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid driving, idling or parking on tall, dry grass or piles of brush that can touch the underside of a vehicle. A few seconds of contact can start a fire.