Car fires can become house, brush fires

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Two brush fires and a house fire in the last two weeks all reportedly started as vehicle fires.

Al Gutierrez with Inman and Sons Auto & Truck Center says it doesn't take much for a car to spark a fire.

"Once it gets near your exhaust is where a dry leaf will actually ignite," he said.

Officials say flames from RV fires spread to brush near Sunset Point on May 20 and Bush Highway on Tuesday. A Phoenix house caught fire Tuesday after a car ignited in the garage.

"If the ambient temperature is 108, 110, or on the road right now it's 118 degrees, it's harder for that vehicle to cool down versus driving in 60- or 70-degree weather. Everybody's vehicle is working harder right now," Phoenix Fire Capt. Tony Mure said.

Firefighters say with the temperatures cranking up outside, it's important to maintain your car properly. That includes checking your brakes and making sure cooling agents are working, especially before you load the car for a road trip with the family.

"The catalytic converter and the muffler normally run at 200 to 300 degrees, but if there's a failure in that, it can become hotter and so that's how we get fires on the side of the road," Mure said.

In some instances, like the Phoenix garage fire, the car doesn't even need to be in motion to go up in flames.

Mechanics say that when it's this hot, you need to give your car a little preventative tender loving care.

"Everything's hot on the automobile. The engine's running at a very high temperature. The battery's hot, the metal's all hot. When you're driving and you're stopped at an intersection, it's extremely hot for the car," Gutierrez said.

Click here for more information on car fire safety.