AVONDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Here in Arizona, we're told to keep water in our cars in case of an emergency. But could a water bottle start a fire in your car?
One Valley woman says it’s not an urban legend.
We went to a local fire department to get to the bottom of how it could happen.
Brandi Cooper of Avondale says on Thursday morning she placed a refillable water bottle in the center cup holders of her car.
She left her car parked for about 10 minutes while she dropped her daughter off at daycare.
That’s when she says the container acted like a magnifying glass, concentrating the sunlight, and burning a hole in the driver’s seat.
"I came and I opened my car door and I saw smoke, a little bit of smoke, and I smelled something. I’m like 'something's burning,'" said Cooper.
The holes look almost like cigarette burns.
“That was one of the jokes my husband made was like 'You sure you didn't have anybody maybe smoking in there?' Like no, nobody smokes in the car,” she said.
We went to the Goodyear Fire Department for answers.
Captain Manny Cordova says a water bottle starting a fire is absolutely possible, just not very likely.
“The conditions would have to be almost perfect, where you have the light shining through a window at the perfect angle to cause it to concentrate that light,” said Cordova.
He’s heard of other cases around the country, but has never responded to a call of a car fire here in the valley caused by a water bottle.
He says because the sun is constantly moving, those conditions would not stay perfect for long, reducing the risk of the burn becoming a blaze.
He says their warning to everyone is to check for people and pets left in cars first, before water bottles, as that is a real and present risk in our hot weather.
Cooper says she's thankful she caught it before it got any worse.
"And so I took my water bottle and I poured water on it," said Cooper.
Now she says she's not taking any more chances, and wants to share the message with others.
"No more water in my car, no. I made sure any and all water bottle in there are out."
If you’re worried, the easy fix is to just keep water bottles out of the sun by covering them up.