SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County reminded residents Thursday about wildfire disaster risk and that vehicles are responsible for the most local wildfires in which a cause has been identified.
Vehicle-related fires can be ignited by things like a poorly- maintained engine catching fire, a failing catalytic converter, a flat tire and pulling over in an area with easily-ignitable brush or dry grass.
"People just need to be really cognizant and think about the fire danger risk when they're driving and need to pull over," said Kendal Bortisser, CalFire and county fire captain. "Sometimes people are unaware that if they pull off the road and there's grass, it could catch fire. It could be a really bad move."
Of the fires in which an investigator was able to determine a cause over the last two years, vehicle-related fires were the leading cause, totaling 106 in 2016 and 94 in 2017.
Catalytic converters can sometimes explode and release hot chunks of metal that can ignite fires without the driver knowing, according to Bortisser. A normally operating catalytic converter can also ignite dry grass and brush under a car if a driver pulls over on the side of the road.
Drivers are recommended to pull over on paved surfaces when possible. If a car does catch fire, people must exit it as quickly as possible and evacuate to a safe area. Bortisser recommends drivers keep a fire extinguisher in their car to try to extinguish the fire as long as they are not risking injury in doing so.
Residents can prepare for fires by registering for AlertSanDiego, the county's notification system, and by downloading the free SDEmergency app.
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