Using hot coals to help start car backfires - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Using hot coals to help start car backfires

LAC DU FLAMBEAU (WAOW) – An old-time strategy - trying to start a car in the brutal cold by placing burning charcoal beneath the engine to warm it - backfired Tuesday for one woman. Her car started on fire.

The incident involving a 2007 Dodge Caravan happened about 8:30 a.m. with the thermometer reading -27 degrees, Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath said.

Placing burning charcoal beneath an engine as a way to start a vehicle in subzero cold is designed to warm the oil, a method used before the days of engine block heaters and fuel-injected cars, the sheriff said.

Not too many people do it anymore,” he said. "In the old days, people used to do that."

The fire that erupted didn't do much damage and was quickly extinguished, Fath said. No one was hurt.

Lac Du Flambeau Police Chief Robert Brandenburg told The Associated Press that a woman first took out the battery of the mini-van, warmed it up inside and reinstalled it.

Then she shoved the hot coals beneath the engine, starting a fire in the undercarriage of the front bumper, he said. Damage was estimated at about $1,000.

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