Gas strut explosion, Sacramento vehicle fire

The Sacramento Fire Department issued a “green sheet” that summarizes an interesting development that occurred during the suppression of a vehicle fire on September 26. Two gas struts that assist in opening the hood exploded, propelling the struts out the front of the vehicle. Both struts struck a garage door. One made a hole in the door and bounced off. The other penetrated the door and became embedded, leaving only about three inches of the strut exposed, making a one inch hole in the door.

Thankfully, the burning vehicle was parked one or two feet from a garage, making it impractical for the firefighters to make their attack from the front, which is not advised anyway due to the possibility of gas shock absorbers being in the front bumper assembly.

You never know for sure where these gas struts can be in a vehicle. They can also be found in rear hatch doors or the rear windows on SUV’s.
Photos from Sacramento FD Green Sheet

On January 29, 2009 we posted a video of what was probably the front bumper exploding off the front of a burning car. That is HERE.

As Sgt. Phil Esterhaus said, “Let’s be careful out there”.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

2 thoughts on “Gas strut explosion, Sacramento vehicle fire”

  1. As a BLM Engine Captain in 1992 on the CA-CDD, I wrote a safety gram regarding this problem that was shared widely. It isn’t anything new. In that case, it was "emerging" 5 and 10 mph bumper technology that would become the norm. While attacking a vehicle fire that had extended into the vegetation, one strut/absorber separated with the bumper (intact) and traveled from the right shoulder to the fast lane about 40 feet away. When the bumper separated, it left the second strut/absorber in place. Luckily, ALL BLM employees were properly trained for the mission and outfitted in the proper PPE.When the second strut/absorber failed, it traveled like a rocket over approx. 140 feet (after skipping once on the asphalt) and broke the leg of a CalTrans employee doing traffic control.Seventeen years later….. still a known hazard.When will we ever understand that we are actually firefighters?

  2. I responded to a wildland/car fire and the gas struts on the front bumper both blew at the same time blowing the burning bumper across our control line,(the road) and starting another larger fire. It was a big bang and sent the bumper a good 50 feet intact. The crew was working the back edge of the fire so was well out of the way and the FF left to watch for spots was down the road a bit. He said it was very impressive. It’s allways best to stay well clear of burning vehicles. In the end the magnesium enigne block began to burn with a white hot flame and it was left to burn it’s self out.


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