PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With high winds, hot temperatures and dry conditions expected around the state this weekend, the Oregon Department of Transportation warns people that cars can potentially start wildfires in extreme weather.
According to ODOT, the top cause of wildfires this summer has come from motor vehicles. With it being late in fire season, grasses are cured and forests are dried out. In extreme conditions, winds can allow accidental sparks or car fires to spread.
ODOT said that maintenance and construction crews will reduce potentially dangerous activities, including mowing and using heavy equipment that causes sparks.
Another aspect that could affect car safety is power outages, which cause street lighting, traffic signals and tunnel lighting to go dark. ODOT says to treat intersections like an all-way stop when traffic signals go out.
ODOT also released a list of recommendations on how to prevent roadside wildfires:
- Stay on hardened surfaces when pulling off the road. Avoid dry grass that might come in contact with your vehicle’s hot exhaust system or catalytic converter.
- Never toss a lit cigarette or any burning materials from your vehicle.
- Carry a fire extinguisher with you and know how to use it. You may save lives by putting out a small fire before it turns huge.
- Maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on rims will throw off sparks.
- Secure tow chains and make sure they aren’t dragging. That can cause sparks.
- Maintain your exhaust system. A worn-out catalytic converter can cast off extremely hot pieces of material into dry roadside grass and brush.
- If you see something, say something. Warn others of the dangers of behaving carelessly with fireworks or other flammables.
- Stay on the road. Off-road driving is prohibited in most areas during fire season.
- Be prepared. Keep a cell phone, water, a shovel and a fire extinguisher with you in case a fire starts.
- Service your vehicle regularly by a trained mechanic. Heat and electrical sparks coming into contact with leaking flammable car fluids can easily start a fire.