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P.E.I. fire marshal urges quick action when vehicles catch fire

Chris Gallant's car became engulfed in flames Thursday, Feb. 6, while he was attempting to deliver newspapers and flyers in the Brookvale area.
Chris Gallant's car became engulfed in flames Thursday, Feb. 6, while he was attempting to deliver newspapers and flyers in the Brookvale area.

P.E.I. Fire Marshal Dave Rossiter has the same advice in the event of a car fire or a house fire: get out and stay out.

Trying to retrieve possessions is not worth the risk of harm or even death, he says.

“There’s nothing that valuable,’’ says Rossiter.

The fire marshal made the comment Monday when talking about the frequency of firefighters responding to calls of vehicles being on fire.

He estimates the fire departments in the province collectively are called to about 40 calls a year of fires involving combines, heavy equipment or motor vehicles. Another 30 or so calls are false alarms where deployed airbags have emitted a very fine lubricant powder that is commonly mistaken as smoke.

Rossiter says when fire is detected in a vehicle, the driver should pull over as soon as possible and get everybody out of the vehicle immediately.

He says electricity, lots of plastics and flammable liquid can result in fire spreading rapidly in a vehicle.

Fire usually occurs, he adds, as a result of an electrical issue between the engine compartment and the dashboard area.   

A driver with The Guardian was able to escape unscathed earlier this month when his car became engulfed in flames on Route 13 in Brookvale while he was attempting to deliver newspapers and flyers.

Firefighters responded just two weeks earlier when a car caught fire on the Charlottetown bypass between Brackley Point Road and St. Peters Road.

There were no injuries, but the car was deemed a total loss.

Rossiter says the number of calls to vehicle fires on P.E.I. has remained fairly steady from year to year.


Here are warning signs of a fire potentially igniting in a motor vehicle: 

  • Fuses that blow repeatedly.
  • Spilled oil under the hood left over from an oil change.
  • Oil or other fluid leaks under the vehicle.
  • Cracked or loose wiring or wiring with exposed metal.
  • Very loud sounds from the exhaust system.
  • Rapid changes in fuel level, oil levels, or engine temperature.
  • Broken and loose hoses.

Source: State Farm Insurance Company

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