A brand-new Mercedes Benz CLA200 luxury sedan caught fire in Delhi. The car belonged to 20 year old Gagan Kalra, who’s an MBA student at the Amity University in Noida. Gagan was driving back from college yesterday evening at about 4:40 PM, when the car caught fire somewhere near the Maharani Bagh area of the Delhi Noida Direct (DND) expressway. The incident led to a 4 km long traffic jam on the DND, delaying traffic for an hour.
Here’s how it panned out…
After noticing smoke emanating from the under the hood, Gagan immediately stopped the car and managed to get out in time. Thankfully. Gagan escaped unhurt even as the car was totally gutted before firefighters could reach the spot. It remains to be seen if the Mercedes CLA200 was fitted with any after market accessories, which can cause such fires. Gagan’s father Bobby Kalra, who had gifted him the car just 5 days ago, expressed shock at the incident.
Here’s what Mr. Bobby Kalra had to say about the incident,
I gifted the brand new Mercedes Benz-CLA-200 to my son Gagan, which cost over Rs 35 lakh. I cannot believe it caught fire.
Why do cars catch fire?
Any car can catch fire, from the humble Tata Nano to a super high-end Rolls Royce. One of the biggest reasons for a car catching fire is an electrical short circuit. Such short circuits generally happen when a car is fitted with after market accessories, with the fitment done in shoddy manner.
Splicing the stock wiring of the wire and not insulating it properly is one of the biggest reason for electrical short circuits in cars. Also, some after market accessories may put additional load on the car’s electrical system, causing fuses to blow and in the worst case, wiring to melt or catch fire.
Other reasons for car fires include poor maintenance, fitment of illegal and poor quality LPG/CNG kits, storing combustible materials in the car or the engine bay, and sometimes even smoking in the car.
What to do if your car catches fire?
- Your first concern should be occupant safety. Your car is covered by insurance so don’t worry too much about it, and while your life too may be covered by insurance, you won’t be the one collecting it!
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy. These days you get spray-can fire extinguishers filled with halon gas that can fight multiple types of fires – oil fires and electrical fires.
- Keep a life hammer in the car. A life hammer is a tool that has a pointed hammer at one end to break glass and a seat belt cutter at the other end to quickly free trapped occupants.
- In many cases of fire, people have perished ostensibly because the central locking system jammed – and it’s quite possible that could happen in a panic situation. Also with many door handles being made of plastic, a fire will quickly melt them, rendering them useless. In such cases, bashing out the windows is the only way out.
- If you don’t have a life hammer, keep the wheel spanner or similar heavy tool right next to the driver’s seat or in the door pocket.
- To extinguish a small fire, you can use a regular fire extinguisher. If it is an electrical fire, you could douse the flames with sand or water. But if it is an oil fire, water will make it worse and spread the fire. In such cases, sand would be better. However, if the fire is raging out of control, don’t try saving the car, save yourself!