Every year, 550 people are killed and 2,100 civilians and 1,200 firefighters are injured from motor vehicle fires.

Vehicle fires are so dangerous that firefighters wear full protective fire gear and a self-contained breathing apparatus to keep them from harm when around such a fire.

Fires in motor vehicles produce many toxic gases. Automobiles, trucks and other motor vehicles are made of many synthetic materials that emit harmful, if not deadly gases when they burn. A main by-product of fires is a lethal concentration of carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas.

Parts of the vehicle can burst from the immense heat, shooting great distances. Hatchback door and bumper struts, magnesium wheels, drive shafts and engine parts — all become lethal shrapnel. Vehicle fires can also cause air bags to deploy.

If there is a car fire, here are some safety tips for you to remember:

  1. Get yourself and all others out of and away from the vehicle. If the vehicle is in a garage or other structure, exit immediately.
  2. After you are a safe distance away from the vehicle, call 911.
  3. Remain away from the vehicle.
  4. Never put yourself in danger using a fire extinguisher. If you use a fire extinguisher, do so from a safe distance.
  5. Do not open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire under it.

The dangers of motor vehicle fires are often overlooked. Deadly gases and other hazardous substances, as well as flying debris and explosions, combine to produce serious dangers.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Athens Fire Department at 740- 592-3301.

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