Friday, November 15, 2013

BLM finds cause of highway fires

Series of blazes caused by defective catalytic converter

Express Staff Writer

    The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has determined that a series of fires Tuesday along state Highway 75 east of Magic Reservoir was caused by a defective catalytic converter that led to hot debris being spewed from a motor vehicle.
    BLM spokeswoman Heather Tiel-Nelson said Wednesday that a fire investigator found catalytic converter pieces, referred to as substrate, at all three locations where the fires were sparked. She said one piece was the size of a thumbnail, while the other two pieces were about two inches long.
    “It was certainly a vehicle-caused fire,” Tiel-Nelson said. “It was caused by parts of a catalytic converter that were being expelled through a tail pipe.”
    She said catalytic converter-caused fires are not common, but have been identified before as causing wildfires along roadways.
    “He (fire investigator) has found, maybe a handful of times, substrate along the highway,” she said.
    Three separate roadside fires were started Tuesday but were controlled by early evening that day by BLM firefighters with the assistance of local fire departments.
    One fire charred four acres, the second 13.9 acres and the third .01 acres.

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