Beetles or bad batteries? Charred cars prompt probe
Last year, eight moving cars caught fire in Ernakulam alone; MVD, fire & rescue services dept join hands to find reasons
KOCHI: Is it beetles, faulty batteries or something else? Following incidents in which moving cars caught fire in the state, the motor vehicles and the fire and rescue services departments have joined hands to find the reasons behind the same. Last year, eight moving cars caught fire in Ernakulam alone, while two such incidents have been reported from Vyttila in the first week of this year.
“Short-circuit from battery is suspected to be the cause in most cases. Though most of the cars that caught fire were old ones, some newly-bought vehicles caught fire too,” said Sunil Kumar, assistant fire station officer at Gandhi Nagar here. Ernakulam Road Transport Officer (Enforcement) G Ananthakrishnan said after any accident, forensic analyses are done for ascertaining the reason.
“In some incidents reported in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam, holes made by beetles in the rubber fuel pump were the culprit. A study had found that high ethanol content in fuel attracts a certain type of beetle which makes a hole in the rubber pump. The fuel that leaks from the holes catches fire. Forensic analysis will check whether the same type of beetles are responsible for the recent incidents in Kochi. However, in most cases, short-circuit from battery leads to the fire,” he said.
Sunil said anyone seeing smoke coming out from engine bay should stop the car immediately and inspect it to prevent a major accident. “Seats and plastic components in cars catch fire easily and the fire spreads when the paint starts melting,” he said. Though keeping a fire extinguisher in the car would help, drivers should know how to use it before installing it in their cars.
“In some countries, fire extinguishers are mandatory for all vehicles. In India, they are generally seen in heavy vehicles. Small fire extinguishers are available in the market. Also, drivers should check for fuel leak, engine-oil level, coolant level and battery wiring every week,” said Sunil. Ananthakrishnan said car owners should not compromise on battery quality and also check there is no loose connection to the battery.
“Low-quality fuses are a major reason for short circuits. In some cars, ordinary wire is used instead of fuses. As part of modifications, like adding additional lights, horns and other features, the wiring of the car is tampered with and also leads to overloading of the battery, leading to short circuits. This is why major alteration is not permitted in vehicles,” he said.
A study had found that high ethanol content in fuel attracts a certain type of beetle which makes a hole in the rubber pump. The fuel that leaks from the holes catches fire. Forensic analysis will check whether the same type of beetles are responsible for the recent incidents in Kochi, says Ernakulam Road Transport Officer (Enforcement) G Ananthakrishnan.