Firefighters: Don’t cause a wildfire on your drive

Don't let your car start a wilfdfire

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One small spark can lead to so much more in Southern Arizona.

Right now, crews are battling several wildfires across our state.

While many of us enjoyed the wet winter, Battalion Chief John Walka said the wet weather now means more dry grass on the side of the road. More tall, dry grass means a much higher risk of brush fires and wildfires in Southern Arizona.

A fire, Battalion Chief Walka said, is something you could start behind the wheel.

“Vehicles can throw sparks for a number of reasons," said Walka. .

One of the biggest dangers on the road is the chains that drivers may be dragging behind, without being aware.

“Have those chains tied up. There’s clips and attachments on those trailers to make sure those chains don’t drag," said Walka. "They throw sparks like crazy, they throw multiple sparks down the road.”

Walka has been with the Rural/Metro Fire Department for almost forty years. He said cars a most likely responsible for most of the bush fires and and wildfires in our area.

From the asphalt to tall grass, one spark could lead to flames spreading fast along the side of a Southern Arizona road. Walka said a fire can double every thirty seconds.

“All those parts underneath your car, not just your engine but your mufflers, your tailpipes, the break systems, the wheels. Everything is very hot that could easily ignite those dry grasses," said Walka.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 330,000 acres are burned a year in the Southwest from human-caused fires. While there are many ways someone could potentially start a fire, Walka said many flames can be followed back to vehicles.

Walka also warned cigarette butts, or items thrown out the car, can create flames in seconds. Cigarettes, he said, were another cause he sees often of fires in both urban and rural areas.

There was an overall decrease in fires in Arizona last year, something Walka and many others attribute to community awareness.

So, from tire pressure to what you could have in tow, remember:

“One less spark, one less fire," said Chief Walka.

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