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Why So Many Car Fires? Don’t Use E15 or E85 Ethanol-Gasoline Blends Non-Approved in Older Model Vehicles

Tue February 11 2014 8:09 pm
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FOX Business Contributor Lauren Fix: Warning, DO NOT Use E15 Gas in Your Car if it’s not approved for your vehicle.

Gasoline warning: EPA approved E15 and E85 gas can ruin your engine, corrode your fuel line and destroy gaskets in older non-approved vehicles. Destroyed gaskets means leaky gasoline. Leaky gasoline on hot surfaces leads to ignition, and ignition leads to vehicle fires. The non-approved might not even be that old; there are vehicles that are only a couple of years old that are approved for E15 or E85 mixed blend gasoline. Most gasoline on the market is E10, which contains 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol.

There are also serious performance problems caused by “Phase Separation” which means the heavier ethanol mixes with any condensed water and sinks to the bottom of the tank. Ethanol blended fuel is primarily designed for automobiles where it is typically consumed in one or two weeks. The longer it sits, the more separation. With separation, the vehicle uses up the ethanol first, then burns a lower octane gasoline, which causes detonation and damage to the engine.

Fully-Involved Mini-van Fire.

Fuel-Fed Car Fire: Chevrolet Monte Carlo Driver Smells Gas, Hears Poof While Driving.

Ford Mustang car fire.

Vehicle Fires in Body Shop/Automotive Parking Lot Overnight on Rohlwing Rd, Rolling Meadows.

Arlington Heights Car Fire with Air Bag Cylinder Explosion.

The ethanol-gasoline blended fuel also poses extra risks for firefighters extinguishing fires that are burning this fuel.

Potential Fire Fighting Hazards
Fires involving E85 and other ethanol/gasoline blends mix readily with water and will degrade the effectiveness of fire fighting foam, which is not alcohol-resistant. Because of this, the follow- ing fire fighting measures should be considered when responding to ethanol and gasoline blend incidents.
According to the North American Emergency Response Guidebook 2004, responders should:
• Call the emergency response telephone number on shipping paper first.
• As an immediate precautionary measure, isolate spill or leak area for at least 150 feet
in all directions.
• Keep unauthorized personnel away.
• Stay upwind.
• Keep out of low areas.
• Ventilate closed spaces before entering.
• Wear positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus,or SCBA.
• Structural firefighters protective clothing will only provide limited protection.
For fires, responders should:
Be cautioned that these products have a very low flash point. Use of water spray, when fighting fire may be inefficient.
• For small fires, use dry chemical, CO2, water spray or alcohol-resistant foam.
• For large fires:
– Use water spray, fog or alcohol-resistant foam.
– Use water spray or fog; do not use straight streams.
– Move containers from fire area if you can do it without risk.
• For fire involving tanks or car/trailer loads:
– Fight fire from the maximum distance or use unmanned hose holders
or monitor nozzles.
– Cool containers with flooding quantities of water until well after fire is out.
– Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety devices or
discoloration of tank.
– Always stay away from tanks engulfed in fire.
– For massive fire, use unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles. If this is not
possible, withdraw from area and let the fire burn.

NOTE: None of the vehicle fires shown in the videos above were investigated by The Cardinal to determine whether unapproved ethanol-gasoline blended fuel was used in the vehicles.

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