BLM: Don’t park or drive over vegetation in extreme fire conditions

Maupin, Ore. – An incident in central Oregon is prompting officials to remind the public about the dangers of driving and parking on dry grass, especially during the solar eclipse.

On Thursday, a person tried to drive their vehicle over a berm into dry grass in Maupin, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

A fire sparked in the grass under the vehicle, destroying it in the process.

Dry vegetation is easily combustible, and some people may not know just how hot vehicle undercarriages get.

One component of a vehicle’s exhaust, the catalytic converter, can reach external temperatures between 750° and 1200° Fahrenheit, according to the University of Washington.

U.S. Forest Service tests show cheat grass can catch fire within two minutes at just 572°F, well below the operating temperature of a catalytic converter.

When a vehicle is driven through or parked in tall grass contacting the exhaust, there is a possibility of sparking a fire, particularly during dry conditions.

Ahead of the upcoming solar eclipse, hundreds of thousands of people will be traveling to Oregon, where fire danger levels are currently “extreme” in most public lands.

The BLM said conditions in central Oregon are so dangerous, they’ve implemented and open campfire ban, including charcoal and pellet fires, in the BLM’s Prineville District, the Deschutes National Forest, Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland.

On a Facebook post, the BLM wrote, “Pass these safety messages on to visitors coming for the total solar eclipse!”

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