USFA releases report on highway motor vehicle fires

January 9, 2013

Emmitsburg, MD – An average of 300 people were killed and approximately 1,250 injured in highway motor vehicle fires between 2008 and 2010, according to a report (.pdf file) released Jan. 7 by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Researchers gathered data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System. Among the report's other findings:

  • "Unintentional action” was the leading cause of highway motor vehicle fires (32 percent), while mechanical failure was the leading factor contributing to the ignition of fires (44 percent).
  • Passenger vehicles made up 86 percent of all fires.
  • An estimated 61 percent of fires originated in the vehicle’s engine, running gear or wheel area, with 35 percent of fatal fires occurring in one of those regions.

If you experience a vehicle fire, USFA recommends pulling off to the side of the road and turning off the ignition to stop the flow of gasoline and electricity. If you suspect a fire, do not open the hood or trunk, as air could rush in and enlarge a fire, USFA warned.