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Drivers Should be Aware of Wildfire Dangers Motorized Vehicles Pose

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SALEM – Oregon expects high winds, hot temperatures, and dry conditions in the days ahead and that means wildfire danger. In these conditions, ODOT maintenance and construction crews will curtail potentially dangerous activities, including mowing and the use of heavy equipment that could throw off sparks.

With persistent and deepening drought conditions, drivers should be more aware of the potential wildfire dangers our vehicles pose. Over 70% of wildfires are caused by people and in Oregon last year, cars were the number one source of wildfires during the summer.

ODOT recommends the following to help reduce the potential for fire:

  • Stay on hardened surfaces when pulling off the road. Avoid dry grass that might come in contact with your vehicle’s hot exhaust system or catalytic converter.
  • Never, ever toss a lit cigarette or ANY burning materials from your vehicle.
  • Carry a fire extinguisher with you and know how to use it. You may save lives by putting out a small fire before it turns huge.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on rims will throw off sparks.
  • Secure tow chains and make sure they aren’t dragging. That can cause sparks.
  • Maintain your exhaust system. A worn-out catalytic converter can cast off extremely hot pieces of material into dry roadside grass and brush.
  • If you see something, say something. Warn others of the dangers of behaving carelessly with fireworks or other flammables.
  • Stay on the road. Off-road driving is prohibited in most areas during fire season.
  • Be prepared. Keep a cell phone, water, a shovel, and a fire extinguisher with you in case a fire starts.
  • Service your vehicle regularly by a trained mechanic. Heat and electrical sparks coming into contact with leaking flammable car fluids can easily start a fire.

This late into the season, grasses are cured and the forests have all dried out. In these conditions, winds give accidental sparks or car fires the ability to spread quickly.

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