For many years I led a double career as both a pest management technician and a fire investigator. A local police department brought me on after a string of arsons in the early 1980s because of my background in fire science. About 20 years ago I received a call to examine a car fire.
A Mysterious Car Fire
It was springtime and the vehicle owner had taken his 1965 Mustang out of storage. The car seemed to be running funny so the owner parked it next to his house and left it running in hopes that would solve the problem. Suddenly, his neighbor ran over to tell him his car was on fire. By the time the fire department arrived, the Mustang had been destroyed and the house siding had melted from the blaze.
How Can Something So Small Cause Such a Big Problem?
No one could figure out what had caused the fire, so I was brought in to investigate the situation. I searched through the remains of the car and when I took the air filter box apart, I found a mouse nest inside. The engine heated up the nest until it burst into flames.
Oftentimes, garages or storage facilities get infested with mice, and cars are the perfect shelter for these little rodents to make nests. They even like to use the insulation and padding in the car as nesting material.
Moral of the Story
Always make sure the place where you’re storing your vehicle is pest-free and be sure to check your engine compartment and air filter box for rodent nests before taking your vehicle out of storage. Sprinkling mothballs under the car to keep the mice away is not an effective method. Not only will it smell horrible, but it can be poisonous to pets. If you think you have a problem with mice, contact your local pest management company to take a look at the situation.