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Car goes up in flames on the Expressway

Car on fire on I-93 south in Boston

Derek McLeod watched a flaming car on I-93 south, near the Ink Block in the South End around 11:20 p.m. He reports Boston firefighters showed up quickly to douse the flames.

Car on fire on I-93


Whenever I see one of these stories, I always wonder - since I'm not a mechanic and really know little about it - what causes a car to burst into flames while on the road? Is there anything special to keep an eye on so it can be avoided? Thanks for the answers, if you have some.


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They're not as frequent as they used to be, but obviously they still happen.

1. Dropped smoking materials igniting the carpet and/or upholstery;
2. Electrical fire due to a short circuit;
3. Oil leaking via compromised seals or gaskets onto a hot part of the engine, commonly onto the exhaust manifold;
4. Fuel leak via a compromised fuel line, ditto. Old-school carburetted cars used to operate under fairly low fuel pressure, typically less than 7psi, but fuel injected cars (pretty much anything made in the last 30 years) can run up to 90-ish psi in the fuel lines, which can create quite the fountain if one ruptures or leaks.

Of course, a collision can compromise the fuel tank and/or fuel lines and cause a fuel spill and risk of fire.

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I feel like there are more car fires on 93 near Ink Block than other stretches. Adam, any truth to that?

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and it's probably the first safe place to pull over going southbound if your car is doing something unusual or you smell something burning. There's no breakdown lane inside the tunnel. There's not much of one near the Ink Block, either, but unlike the tunnel, at least there's a somewhat safe place for you to stand while you wait for help.

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