It is fall and the trees are ablaze in all of their glory. Who isn’t in awe of this bountiful tapestry of red, gold, and orange leaves that adorn deciduous trees in neighborhoods, parks, and mountains from coast to coast? With an azure sky as a backdrop the colors are all the more magnified, your viewing pleasure increased. In the middle of all of this lurks a menace, one that can be both destructive and deadly. Please read on to discover the inherent dangers of the autumn season and what you must do to protect yourself and your property from catalytic converter leaf fires.
Anne Bridgeton was accustomed to taking her ’99 Camry on weekday excursions from her home in the Kentucky foothills to her job some thirty miles away. By traveling along narrow, twisting back roads and avoiding the interstate, Anne’s trip took an additional fifteen minutes each way but it was a small price to pay as one of the benefits included viewing a bucolic landscape replete with farms and forested areas, and pocketed by small stores. Somehow the sterile scenery of the interstate was more unnerving than calming, even unsettling at times. Besides, no tandem trailers took the Kentucky backgrounds unlike the interstate which was full of them. Staying out of their way was the chief reason Anne avoided the interstate.
This past October all of that changed for Anne and dramatically so. It had been a dry summer and autumn seemed to have arrived earlier than usual as the leaves changed and fell well before the month ended. In some sections along the back roads, particularly in more residential areas, leaves were piled up alongside the curb for removal by the local sanitation crews. It reminded Anne of the snowdrifts that she would soon see all winter long on her way back and forth to work.
When the phone rang, Anne assumed that it was someone at her place of work calling to ask her if she would stop by at a local farm and pick up cider and donuts. Several times during the year Anne would visit a nearby farm and pick up a treat for her office staff. As it turned out it was her mother calling to remind Anne that today was her younger sister’s birthday.
Pulling off to the side of the road, Anne turned on her emergency flashers, shut off the engine, and engaged her mother in conversation. Not three minutes went by when Anne noticed a plume of smoke rising up outside of the front passenger window. Alarmed, she cut off conversation with her mother, exited her Camry to investigate and soon saw flames shooting up from the ground. As she dialed 911 the Camry was quickly engulfed in an inferno and within moments it was destroyed. Fortunately for Anne she was unhurt — deeply shaken — but alive.
What happened to Anne occurs all too frequently to drivers who park their vehicles directly over leaves. Anne’s catalytic converter was the culprit and as with so many newer cars it can heat up to temperatures well over 1500 degrees. When Anne stopped her Camry right on top of the leaves, sparks from the Camry’s catalytic converter dropped down, the leaves caught fire, and her car was engulfed within minutes. Fortunately, Anne escaped with her life but her Camry was destroyed.
Take care to make sure that the season’s beauty does not lull you into forgetting potential hazards. Keep your vehicle far from leaves and only park on surfaces that are completely clear of all debris. Hundreds of fires each year are ignited by catalytic converters; remain vigilant and don’t fall prey to this deadly peril.