An RV caught fire and burned down entirely just days before Christmas 2022. Video taken by Quartzite, Arizona, residents shows the distressing event.
Unfortunately, RV fires happen more often than you might think. But what can we do to prevent them from happening?
We’ll discuss how fire awareness and RV maintenance can help prevent a disaster on your next camping trip.
Let’s check it out!
Fire Consumes an RV Over the Holidays
Local Quartzsite residents notified authorities of an RV fire on December 19th, 2022. Robert Witham of Travel News reported via Youtube, sharing images of billowing smoke and photos of the totaled rig. Unfortunately, Witham knew very little about whose rig it was or how it happened. However, he took the incident as an opportunity to remind his community about fire awareness.
Local vlogger Ed-Ventures also shared a video shot from his drone. Luckily, the owner survived the ordeal unharmed. Her daughter shared the good news on Ed’s Youtube page.
Sadly, the victim lost personal items as well as her home.
The local RV community jumped in to help from what’s been shared on both sites. Witham emphasized how important neighborly outreach can be in times like this. However, with many campers docking in remote areas, getting help quickly can be challenging. It’s shocking and is a tragic reminder of how quickly a fire can destroy an RV.
Pro Tip: Beware of these 5 Ways Your Camper Can Catch on Fire while on the road.
More RV Fires Happen Than You Realize
Although it’s not something folks in the RV community love to discuss, RV fires may be more common than you think. Over 4,000 motorhome fires occur each year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reported about 15 deaths and 125 injuries from 2018 to 2020.
Luckily, most RVs are easy to evacuate. But the nature of their construction makes them a tinderbox. An entire rig can burn in less than ten minutes. RV owners average a loss of $15,350 per vehicle involved in a fire.
What Are the Hot Zones for RV Fires?
Like in most homes, fires can start anywhere in an RV. But there are specific problem areas or hot zones.
The number one area is the engine. This hot zone, which includes tires, wheel bearings, and brakes, accounts for roughly 26% of all RV fires.
Regular maintenance is critical. Fix any leaks in fuel lines, cooling units, and oil systems immediately. Low tire pressure, dragging breaks, and general overloading of your rig can also start fires.
Another hot zone for RV fires is the kitchen. Namely, the refrigerator. Although accidents can start with cooking oil or an unattended burner, faulty fridges are notorious firestarters. Poor wiring or a damaged boiler can cause serious problems.
Your first step is to ensure that the refrigerator is installed correctly. Next, find mechanics you trust who can perform annual inspections. Also, be sure to check your refrigerator cooling unit for rodents and insect nests as often as possible.
The third hot zone, your RV’s electrical system, spans the entire vehicle but is no less important. Road movement can jostle things out of place. And although wires are all over the interior walls, most problem spots are within eyesight. Keep a keen lookout for shorts in the 12-volt system.
Ideally, every RV owner should have a multimeter on hand to regularly test the electrical system. Or you can ask your mechanically-inclined friends to help you check your converters. But test it regularly, if not before every trip. And turn off 12-volt lights when possible.
Statistically, most RV fires happen on a lazy afternoon in the summer. And mostly on Fridays and Saturdays. We don’t mean to cramp your good-time vibe, but we want you to be safe.
What To Do If Your RV Catches Fire
Prevention and awareness are the best ways to avoid an RV fire. Check your fire gear before you hit the road. Proper gear includes three fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. We think it’s good practice to include top-notch power cords and dry charcoal. Throw out any damp coal to avoid spontaneous combustion.
Have a safety meeting with all passengers and make sure everyone knows the escape routes. Additionally, all riders should know how to open hatches and how to use fire extinguishers.
Be sure to shut off the propane tank and any gas-powered appliances before you drive. Check your tires as much as possible and keep your RV maintenance list up to date. Roughly three-quarters of highway fires start from mechanical and electrical failures.
Once you’ve reached your destination, keep fire safety in mind. If you need to use extension cords while camping, never place them under a carpet. Turn off as much as you can inside during your barbecues, and never leave the grill unattended.
If an RV fire starts, get everyone out and away from the vehicle. Use your extinguishers if the fire is small. But if that doesn’t work, evacuate immediately. Forget your belongings and call for help as soon as you and your companions are away from the fire. Call 911 or find a park ranger.
Be sure you and your loved ones know your exact location so firefighters can get to you as soon as possible.
Pro Tip: Check out this news story on an RV Dealership Lost Nearly 100 RVs in Fire.
Be Fire Smart
As we’ve learned, RV fires are something all motorhome owners should be aware of. One rig can be completely destroyed in minutes. That said, regular maintenance and fire prevention practices can help keep them from happening in the first place.
Acts of nature account for only 1% of RV fires. This means most fires happen by accident. However, sometimes life gets so busy that it’s easy to forget the care needed to keep your RV in top shape. So make a habit of it. Add fire safety to your regular list of to-dos if it’s not there already.
Once you’re used to having fire safety in mind, enjoy yourself. It’s good to know the average house fire is more common than an RV fire. But remember, safety first!
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