Magnesium in car parts makes fire on Valley freeway difficult to extinguish

Posted at 10:39 PM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-03 01:39:20-04

Firefighters say a stubborn car fire near I-10 and 91st Avenue was likely made more challenging because of a strong, durable and lightweight metal becoming more common in car parts.

Video taken from an Arizona Department of Transportation freeway camera caught a small explosion a few minutes into the fire and it’s believed the magnesium parts of the car began to burn.

“It's going to burn a lot hotter, probably several hundred degrees hotter, than a regular car fire,” said Tolleson Fire Chief George Good.

Tolleson Fire Department along with Avondale Fire Department trains for all types of hazards including fires involving magnesium.

"We've hot high heat, we've got explosions and we have carcinogens and we need to protect ourselves," added Chief Good.

Chief Good says car manufacturers especially Volkswagen and Porsche tend to use magnesium car parts for the lightweight benefits.

Online firefighting training videos show the risks the metal poses when fire is in the mix.

“Once it gets burning, it’s going to burn hotter, and when we add the water, it’s going to react very violently,” said Chief Good.

Firefighters say the best advice is to prevent a fire by properly maintaining vehicles and carry a fire extinguisher.