SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Wildfires start for all kinds of reasons – arson, campfires, even just a spark from a lawnmower – but Cal Fire has another concern moving into fire season for anyone getting behind the wheel.
“A big one is to maintain your vehicles,” said Diana Swart of Cal Fire.
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The agency is concerned old cars that aren’t serviced could cause the next wildfire disaster.
“A lot of fires we see are because the vehicles aren’t maintained properly,” said Swart.
“People don’t realize the dangers cars can cause in starting fires,” said Daniel Robles, an auto parts expert.
Auto Zone manager Daniel Robles says damaged or broken car parts are the problem.
“If you have a flat tire and the rim is on the ground, it can spark,” said Robles. “Anything underneath the car is all metal which will easily cause a spark and create a fire.”
There’s one metal in particular that Cal Fire is worried about.
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“They can spark a fire from a faulty catalytic converter,” said Swart.
“If you’re parked over grass, you’re camping, or you’re out somewhere with a lot of dry grass, yeah easily,” said Robles, referring to the trend of catalytic converters starting fires.
Robles says broken or missing catalytic converters are common and customers can’t replace the parts they stolen.
“Not everybody can afford the money it costs to fix these items,” said Robles. “They have to wait and people still need to get where they need to go.”
This adds to wildfire risk on the roadways.
“Fixing the little things can stop the big things from happening,” said Robles.
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Due to the number of catalytic converter thefts of late, many of the auto parts are currently on backorder. However, Cal Fire asks that you do what you can to maintain your vehicles in this fire season ahead.