Catalytic converters (CC) on vehicles can start fires. CC reduce emissions by accelerating the combustion of pollutants. The exhaust is then sent through a vehicle’s exhaust system. The outside metal temperatures of the CC, which is a flat, plate-like surface under a vehicle, can reach 1,000 degrees F under certain conditions, such as running the air conditioner, towing a trailer, or navigating a mountain pass. Fires can then start when flammable materials, such as dry grass and seeds, collect on the exhaust/CC system or if the vehicle is parked where dried vegetation touches this system. **Make no mistake, when it is as dry as it currently is, it only takes a fraction of a second for a hot CC to start a grass fire. Don't take that chance.
To prevent these types of fire:
• After driving through dry vegetation, check the exhaust/CC system for debris buildup that could pose a fire danger. Remember, the exhaust/CC system will be HOT so allow time to cool prior to removing any accumulated dry vegetation.
• Periodically check the vehicle’s exhaust prior to driving first thing in the morning, since it will be cool and thereby allowing removal of debris.
• Avoid driving and parking in dry vegetation.
• And, carry a fire extinguisher in the vehicle.
(University of Wyoming / Photo Credit: Marcus Kauffman)