Make Smokey Bear proud: Take steps to prevent fires along highways

Make Smokey Bear proud: Take steps to prevent fires along highways

May 24, 2018

Six Ways a Vehicle can Start a Wildfire

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications

Everybody knows that humans cause fires. It’s also true that only humans can prevent fires.

But did you also know your vehicle can start a fire? In fact, there are at least six ways this can happen. One of the most common: dragging chains. This easily preventable problem contributes to many of the brush fires along Interstate 17 in particular, leading to long backups and even closures.

The Bureau of Land Management graphic above illustrates other ways can cause fires, including:

  • Severely worn brake pads causing metal-on-metal contact.
  • Underinflated tires compressing and causing sparks to shoot off exposed rims.
  • Hot engine components and catalytic converters ignite gases and brush.

It should go without saying that we're entering Arizona's hottest, driest time of year – in a year that's already been remarkably dry. Already, brush fires along roadways have already ravaged vegetation and caused extensive delays, including last Sunday along I-17 just north of Phoenix and SR 87 between Payson and the Phoenix area.

To help reduce the threat from fire, ADOT crews mow vegetation along highways, remove brush and thin trees and spray fire retardant within ADOT right of ways. But ADOT and partner agencies need your help.

In addition to not throwing cigarette butts onto highways, drivers should do the following before setting out this summer – and any other time of year, for that matter.

  • Check and secure tow chains, and never substitute parts when towing.
  • Make sure nothing is hanging beneath your vehicle and dragging on the pavement.
  • Check tire pressure before you travel. Exposed wheel rims can cause sparks.
  • Don’t park in tall grass, as the heat from parts under your vehicle can start a fire.

Who's in the best position to prevent fires along highways and the delays that result? Smokey Bear says it best:

“Only YOU."