Catalytic converter blamed in 9 Dougco brush fires

Catalytic converter blamed in 9 Dougco brush fires

19 November 2008

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USA — A malfunctioning catalytic converter started nine brush fires along Titan Road in unincorporated Douglas County on Tuesday night.

Becky O’Guin, spokeswoman for the South Metro Fire Rescue Authority, said 25 firefighters from Littleton, West Metro and South Metro put out large brush fires that briefly threatened a home and barn.

Crews brought in several water trucks in the semi-rural area and were able to extinguish the fires in about 20 minutes.

The fires were ignited shortly after 7 p.m.

Investigators found several pieces of a catalytic converter that lead them to a truck that had broken down, said O’Guin.

Investigators said when a catalytic converter fails, it frequently ejects glowing pieces of its internal matrix through its exhaust pipe, often as far as 20 or 30 feet from the vehicle.

In this case, investigators discovered a total of seven pieces of matrix in three of the nine fires.

O’Guin said the other fires may have started from particles too small to identify or from burning materials that spread from the other blazes.

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