We should all be aware of the possibility... A few years ago while staying the Tyson Wash LTVA at Quartzsite we saw, off in the distance, the black smoke of an RV on fire. We have also seen the aftermath of an RV fire. But standing beside a couple watching their motor home burn in a matter of minutes was a sobering and emotional experience.
As we began the climb up Chiriaco pass headed toward Quartzsite, AZ Fran and I spotted a black plumb of smoke ahead. As we got closer we saw that it was a motor home on fire and pulled over to see if we could help. I instinctively grabbed our two small fire extinguishers but it was evident they would be no match for a fire which was already out of control.
The driver told us the engine started to act up as they made the climb and backfired a few times. They decided to pull over and see if they could figure out what was wrong. When he lifted the engine cover black acrid smoke and flame filled the motor home and all they could do to get out as fast as possible.
They lost everything in the motor home including their little dog which was lying on dashboard.
As I said it was a sobering and emotional experience that got me thinking and I made some observations.
1) RVs burn fast! We arrived less than five minutes after the fire started and already the motor home was beyond saving.
2) The smoke is very toxic and you may not be able to stay inside and fight the fire even if you want to. Just a few lung-fulls of the smoke may require hospitalization.
3) You can't have too big a fire extinguisher. He had one twice as big as the one we were carrying but it wasn't enough.
The motor home was so far away from town and there was no way the firefighters could get there in time to save it but I can't help thinking if he hadn't lifted the engine cover letting the smoke and fire into the cabin he would have had a little more time. Time to grab the dog and his wife's purse.
Maybe with the fire contained within the engine housing he could have fought it from outside with better results. It's just speculation of course. I am not questioning his judgment here. He had no reason to suspect his RV was on fire. But, then again, maybe that's the point. Maybe we should all be more aware of the possibility.
No one starts an RV trip expecting their RV to burn to the frame but it does happen. It could happen to you. Do you have fire Extinguisher? Is it the right type and size? Do you know how to use it? Is it kept handy?
Do you have a plan of escape?
Don't have answers to these questions? Call your local fire department. Most have fire safety classes which include teaching the proper selection and use of extinguishers. Any firefighter will be happy to answer you questions.