During 2007, U.S. public fire departments responded to an estimated 266,500 highway-type vehicle fires. These fires claimed 520 lives and caused $969 million in direct property damage. Highway vehicles include cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles commonly driven on roads or highways.
Facts and Figures
One (17%) of every six reported fires involves a highway-type vehicle and 13% of all civilian fire deaths.
On average, more than 30 highway vehicle fires were reported per hour.
In 2004, more people died from highway vehicle fires than from apartment fires. Three times as many vehicle fires were reported as apartment fires.
Cars and other passenger vehicles account for the vast majority of highway vehicle fires and associated losses. In 1999-2002, only 13% of highway vehicle fire actually occurred on highways; 37% occurred on streets, roads or driveways, and 15% were in parking lots.
More than two-thirds of highway vehicle fires resulted from mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions. Collisions or rollovers caused only 3% of these fires but 57% of the associated deaths.
Motor vehicles contain multiple gallons of highly flammable gasoline and other combustible liquids, including motor oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid and brake fluid. Leakage of these fluids is the leading item first ignited in highway vehicle fires (1999-2002).
Source: National estimates based on NFIRS and NFPA survey