Car fires are more common than most drivers think. They can occur due to fuel leaks, vehicles overheating (a common problem in Nevada), short circuits, and car accidents. Inexperienced drivers are more likely to suffer car fires, because they do not know the best prevention methods and may not keep up with proper vehicle maintenance. A car fire on the road can be equally frightening, however, to both new and veteran drivers.
Most people have never experienced a car fire before, and may not know how to react to smoke or an orange glow coming from under the hood. If you recognize the signs of a possible car fire, tell yourself to remain calm. Panicking or jerking the wheel could cause a car accident.
Slowly take your foot off the accelerator and smoothly apply pressure to your brake. Turn your emergency hazard lights on and pull off the road as quickly as safely possible. Do not continue driving a vehicle that has caught fire, even to make it to the next exit or nearest auto shop.
Turn Off the Engine
Once you have safely pulled over, shut off the engine. This will halt the flow of fuel through your engine, and may prevent a full-blown fire if one has not already started. Exit the vehicle and evacuate any passengers.
Evacuate Quickly But Safely
Do not stay in your vehicle to call 911. Instead, leave the car as quickly as you can and move far away from the car to a safe place. Get at least 150 feet away. It is important to put distance between you and the on-fire vehicle in case the fire spreads or causes explosions.
From a safe location, dial 9-1-1 and report the car fire to local Las Vegas police. Confirm that you are waiting in a safe or unsafe location, and wait for police to arrive. Police officers (and most likely firefighters) will come to your location to handle the car fire from there.
Use a Fire Extinguisher
Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle for emergencies. If you have one in your vehicle, only use it if the car fire is in the front of your vehicle (the engine), and only if smoke is coming from your hood, not flames. Crack the hood slightly, only after ensuring it is safe to touch, and use the fire extinguisher from a few feet away. Do not open the hood all the way, or too much oxygen could get inside and cause flames to ignite. Once finished, stand aside and call the police or a towing service.
Never Attempt to Put Out a Rear Car Fire
Smoke or flames coming from the rear of your vehicle could result in a fuel tank fire or explosion. Do not attempt to extinguish flames coming from the back of your vehicle. Pull over and evacuate at least 150 feet away as quickly as you can.
Call Your Insurance Company
After someone safely puts the fire out and you tend to any injuries you may have sustained, call your vehicle insurance company. Collect information about your crash before calling, such as who the crash involved, where you were, and the extent of vehicle damage. Take photographs of property damage as well. File an auto insurance claim and follow the instructions for taking your vehicle to a repair shop.
Car Fire Prevention Tips
Preventing a car fire is always better than reacting to one that has already occurred. Driving safely, avoiding collisions, and keeping up with vehicle maintenance are the top three things a driver can do to prevent a dangerous engine fire. Vehicle maintenance can prevent common causes of car fires, including split fuel pipes or fuel line leaks. Blown fuses or burning smells could be signs of something wrong. Driving safely could prevent a car accident that may have ignited the vehicle.