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What to Do if Your Car is on Fire


Your car catching on fire is scary when driving alone. When driving with your family, it’s beyond scary. Knowing how to react when your car catches fire may save your life as well as that of your family.

Steps to Take in the Event of a Car Fire

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) makes the following recommendations about what to do if your car catches fire:

  • Immediately get everybody out of the car
  • If the car is inside a structure such as a garage then exit it right away
  • Maintain a safe distance from the car and do not return to it to retrieve personal belongings
  • If you have a fire extinguisher that you grabbed upon exit (do not go back for it!), only use it from a safe distance
  • Only use a fire extinguisher approved  for class B and class C fires
  • Do not open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire under those areas because the rush of air could cause the fire to grow, heightening its force
  • Call 9-1-1 as soon as possible once you are a safe distance away

Keep in mind that car fires come with numerous built-in fire hazards besides the obvious possibility of being burned in the car. Cars consist of dangerous materials such as gas and plastics that might burn quickly and/or explode. This heightens the risk of toxic gases and flying debris.

Furthermore, alternative fuel vehicles can be highly dangerous because of batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen, natural gas, propane, or some hybrid of these. Never approach an alternative-fueled vehicle that is on fire. Call 9-1-1 right away and keep a safe distance. According to FEMA:

“[Alternative-fueled vehicles] can present special hazards such as release of flammable or explosive vapor; flames from fuels like alcohol (methanol or ethanol), which burn with light blue flames that are difficult or impossible to see in daylight or in bright lighting; and potential electric shock from high voltage wires.”

Meanwhile, if you’ve been involved in a wreck with a commercial truck, keep in mind the possible dangers of whatever load the truck is carrying. It could be carrying hazardous materials that could ignite. Keep a safe distance.

Recovering Damages Related to a Car Fire

Car fire damage can be vast and costly not only in terms of financial tolls, but emotional tolls as well. Possible damages include:

  • Property damages such as the car and items in it
  • Burns and related medical bills
  • Injuries sustained while escaping the fire and related medical bills
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement

You can recover damages from an at-fault driver if another party was responsible for the accident that caused your vehicle fire. If your car fire resulted from being hit by a negligent commercial truck driver, you may be able to pursue damages from the trucking company that employs the driver.

If your car fire resulted from manufacturer’s negligence (whether the fire was related to an accident or not), you may be able to pursue a product liability case as well.

A lawyer can advise you of your rights in relation to all your damages. If you or your family has been injured in an Indiana car fire, call Hensley Legal Group to set up a no-cost consultation.