Vehicle maintenance could help prevent local fires

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As Californians face the reality of what could be an extended fire season, there is a renewed push to encourage residents to do more to help with fire prevention. (KGO-TV)

As Californians face the reality of what could be an extended fire season, there is a renewed push to encourage residents to do more to help with fire prevention.

At San Jose State University, students were getting a crash course Wednesday on the importance of vehicle maintenance and why it shouldn't be avoided, especially during fire season.

"Maintenance on a vehicle is more applied to internal combustion engines, because you have the water you have to maintain, the oil in the engine you have to maintain, and the transmission oil you have to maintain," says Prof. Fred Barez, director of SJSU's Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technology Laboratory.

Last month, Barez was driving south down Interstate 280 when sparks started flying from his engine, likely related to a nest that was created by a rat. Thankfully, he was able to get to safety.

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"The nest which is nothing but shrubs that the critters bring to the engine, and the engine gets hot in the range of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, or even higher, it's going to cause a fire," said Barez.

Cal Fire says the deadly Carr Fire, burning near Redding, was ignited by a vehicle malfunction last week. Local fire officials say dry conditions have made California prime for wildfires.

"Poorly maintained brakes can cause sparks," said Capt. Mitch Matlow with the San Jose Fire Department. "Those sparks fly into the vegetation alongside the freeway, and now we've got a vegetation fire, and you never even knew that that happened."

With fire danger on the minds of many people, it's a timely lesson. Firefighters say it's also important to see if there's enough defensible space around your home.

Matlow said: "You want to be doing that kind of cutting early in the morning, when the humidities are high, and the temperatures and winds are low."

Get the latest on the Carr Fire here, the Complex Fire here and the latest on wildfires across California here.

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Related Topics:
firecal firewildfireCarr Firefirefightershomedestroyed homesfire departmentsevacuationsafetycar firecarCaliforniaNorthern CaliforniaSan Jose
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