These are the annual gasoline car fires and fatalities in the United States according to the National Fire Protection Association.

It’s not a typo: About 200,000 fires and 400 burning deaths per year in the USA.


Those are the numbers… but the numbers mean little compared to some actual case histories.


Carl L. Ragland

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Hsi-Sheng Hsia

Research and Special Programs Administration

United States

Paper Number 9X-S4-O-08

Two hundred and ninety three (293) fatalities

occurred in these crashes. Sixty-five (65) of these fatalities

resulted from fire.

CASE NO. 148 Single-car crash occurred on an interstate

highway. The vehicle, a 1990 Volvo 740, ran off the

roadway on a left curve when the driver fell asleep at the

wheel. The vehicle struck a guard rail with the left front,

went down an embankment and struck a tree with its driver

side. A fire started under the front of the car quickly spread

to the entire vehicle. The driver was able to crawl out of

the vehicle and pull the right front seat passenger from the

burning car. The two rear seat passengers, a 7-year old boy

and a 3-year old girl, died of fire bums in the vehicle,

according to PAR. No medical examiner’s report was


CASE NO. 102 Two-car frontal collision occurred on an

intersection of a city road. Vehicle #l, a 1991 Volkswagen

Caravelle van, was struck on the left front by vehicle #2, a

1989 Plymouth Sundance, which was speeding and ran the

red light. The lone driver of vehicle #l, a 21-year old

female, died of over 80% charring bums, according to

medical examiner’s report. Test showed the victim has

soot in her trachea by a vertical incision. No autopsy was

performed. The lone driver of vehicle #2 was seriously


CASE NO. 183 Single-car crash occurred on a state

highway. The vehicle, a 1984 Lincoln Town Car, struck a

large metal object on the roadway and caught fire due to

severed fuel lines. The two rear seat passengers, a 35-year

old female and a one-year old girl, died of fire bums at the

scene. Autopsies were performed on both occupants to

confirm cause of death from fire. Another rear seat

passenger, a 5-year old boy, died of asphyxia and third

degree bums at a bums institute the following day (no

autopsy). The front center seat passenger and the rear

center seat passenger suffered serious injuries. The driver,

the right front seat passenger, and the right rear seat

passenger suffered no injury in the crash.

CASE NO. 19 Single-car crash occurred on an interstate

highway. The vehicle, a 1989 Mitsubishi, traveling at a

high rate of speed went out of control during a passing

maneuver when approaching a bridge. It struck the

centerline dividing concrete barrier, hit the guardrail on the

right, then climbed up the superstructure of the bridge.

After striking the cross beam of the bridge, the vehicle fell

back onto the bridge surface on its top and caught fire.

Three rear seat passengers, all females ranging in age from

17 to 22, died of “body burns”, according to medical

examiner’s report. Autopsies were performed on these

three passengers. The male driver was able to climb out of

the vehicle and moved around. The right front seat male

passenger who was pulled out of the vehicle suffered

serious injuries.