SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Since Thursday, the town of South Kingstown has been witness to an unusual amount of car fires, with a total of four vehicles set ablaze in the five-day span.
The first of the four occurred on Thursday, at the Mobil gas station on Old Tower Hill Road. The second happened Sunday, near Geaber’s and the Summit Plaza, also on Old Tower Hill Road. Finally, on Monday, Route 1 was the location for two car fires, when one car travelling northbound caught fire near the South County Commons, and a truck going southbound caught fire in the afternoon.
According to the South Kingstown Union Fire District (UFD), no one was injured in any of the incidents. The Narragansett Times spoke to UFD Deputy Chief Steven Pinch regarding the slew of vehicle fires.
“It’s strange when this amount of car fires occur, but it’s just a coincidence,” he said via telephone Tuesday afternoon, just after the fourth car went ablaze on Route 1. “We took care of each of them without incident and we’re very fortunate no one was injured.”
The fire chief explained some potential causes of the fires.
“With car fires, it’s usually mechanical,” he said. “Something under the hood will go wrong and a fire will start and spread.” “There’s a lot of chemicals burning up into the air, so we have to go in with our masks on,” Pinch continued. “It usually just turns into an open fire, so we can go at it with extinguishers and hoses from all angles, and just put it out. It is unfortunate though, usually with a car fire, by the time we’ve responded it’s already up in flames and there’s not much we can do to save the vehicle itself.”
Such was the case with the truck on Route 1, which, according to UFD, was engulfed in flames before firefighters arrived on scene. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reminds drivers to pull over immediately and safely if they see or smell a fire in their vehicle, to turn the engine off and to exit the vehicle as quickly as possible once it is safe to do so and get at least 100 feet away from the vehicle.
“Get everyone out of the vehicle, never return to a burning car for anything,” the NFPA website reads.
Some measures one can take to prevent the possibility of their vehicle catching fire: have your vehicle serviced regularly by a professional mechanic and look out for leaks; do not transport gas cans or canisters in the passenger compartment and do not park anywhere where flammables (such as grass) would touch the vehicle’s catalytic converter. Finally, look for rapidly changing engine temperatures and drive safely to avoid an accident.