Preventing vehicle-caused wildfires is everyone's responsibility

Preventing vehicle-caused wildfires is everyone's responsibility

By Kathy Cline / ADOT Communications
May 21, 2020

It's that time of year again: lots of sunshine, blazing hot weather and the unofficial launch of the summer road-trip season on Memorial Day. But as summer is heating up, ADOT is encouraging all drivers to do their part to prevent wildfires.

This year's wet winter was great for vegetation. However, much of it has now dried out. And that can fuel fires. We've already seen several brush fires along state highways this year. One spark or carelessly tossed cigarette butt could spark a wildfire that takes lots of time, money and resources to put out. It also can close a highway and inconvenience a great many drivers, in addition to endangering people and property. 

That's the message in this YouTube video from a few years back about how we partnered with other agencies on how to spread the word about fire prevention.

Here are some tips we discuss there and are always sharing to help you avoid starting a wildfire with your vehicle: 

  • Do not park in tall grass or brush, as heat from under your vehicle can set vegetation on fire.
  • Secure your tow chains before heading out to avoid causing sparks.
  • Check your tire pressure before you travel. Exposed wheel rims can cause sparks too.
  • Heed "Red Flag" warnings. The National Weather Service issues these when conditions are ripe for wildfires.
  • Always use a spark arrestor in internal combustion engines;
  • Make sure brake pads are to the task so you avoid sparks from metal on metal.
  • Do not throw cigarette butts out your vehicle window. Either carry a special fireproof container in your vehicle, or use a half-full water bottle to extinguish them in.

It's also good to remember that this isn't hypothetical. Just this past weekend a human-caused brush fire closed State Route 87 in both directions south of Payson. In April 2017, a vehicle dragging chains started a brush fire on State Roue 87 in the same area. In June 2018 a trailer that was dragging metal sparked several fires along 24 miles of State Route 377 between Heber-Overgaard and Holbrook. Those fires grew into a 5,000-acre wildfire that closed the highway for four days and prompted evacuations.

Preventing wildfires is everyone’s responsibility, especially when operating a vehicle. Let's have a safe season and make sure we don't start wildfires with our vehicles!

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