Crash Bytes Newsletter June 2014 2019-11-07T11:29:26-07:00

COOL WASH AND

CLEAN BURN

Have you ever dreamed of owning a really nice, luxury car . . . like a low-mileage, sleek Mercedes?

And when it got dirty you’d pay somebody else to run it through a car wash for you, right? Well imagine how you’d feel just standing there waiting at the exit area and your beauty emerges from the spray, foam, and drying air jets spotlessly clean but . . . ON FIRE!

One of the more interesting Fire Origin & Cause assignments we handled involved just that. The fire was localized to the driver’s seat and was quickly extinguished. The immediate suspicion, of course, was an electrical component failure (e.g., seat warmer circuit) either inside or under the seats.

Mercedes sedan involved in vehicle fire

We checked the fuses and all circuits and found no faults or other abnormalities. We then carefully unbolted and removed the driver’s seat (without spoiling any evidence) and found the cause of the fire.

A lighter was wedged between the seat cushion and the console. When the attendant moved the seat backward to accommodate his long legs, the release button caught and stayed compressed, allowing extremely flammable gas to fill the area immediately below the seat until it ignited, most likely from static electricity, about half-way through the car wash. This incident added new meaning to the term “hot car” and most likely threw cold water on the weekend plans.

For those of you not yet aware, we now have two NAFI-Certified Fire and Explosion Investigators on our VMAR team. Sometimes we even get to have fun figuring out your fires!

Driver side of Mercedes sedan showing burned driver seat
Burned driver seat area showing fire origin
Burned lighter that caused fire

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