CAL Fire Battalion Chief Reveals DPF Device Linked To Multiple Grass Fires-Threatening Homes & Lives

Home DPF Fires and Failures CAL Fire Battalion Chief Reveals DPF Device Linked To Multiple Grass Fires-Threatening Homes & Lives

CAL Fire Battalion Chief Reveals DPF Device Linked To Multiple Grass Fires-Threatening Homes & Lives

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    Chico, California (PR MediaRelease) December 3, 2015

    Television news coverage regarding multiple July 6, 2015 fires along Highway 156 near the community of San Juan Bautista revealed that the fires had been linked to high-temperature sparks and material spewing from the exhaust of a semi-truck, a recurring symptom of the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) device. The truck in this particular incident had caused four separate fires along the highway, which ignited nearby grassland and caused significant damage to a local home. The coverage included an interview with Cal Fire Battalion Chief Richard Lopez, who explained the origin of the fires and the danger that this type of issue poses to local communities. Based on that coverage, and in order to learn more about this incident and potential others like it, the Alliance for California Business (the Alliance) decided to take Chief Lopez’s deposition, which it did on November 10, 2015.


    During the deposition, Chief Lopez stated that he had nearly 30 years of experience working at Cal Fire and that one of his primary duties at Cal Fire is to investigate the origin and cause of particular fire incidents. He traced the causal origin of all four July 6th fires, including the one that reached a residential community, to exhaust discharge from a semi-truck that was traveling along Highway 156, spewing out particulate matter at extremely high temperatures. He based this conclusion in large part on evidence found at the scene of the fires – namely, melted portions of what he determined to likely be parts of a disintegrated catalytic converter (i.e., DPF device) that the truck expelled from its exhaust.

    Chief Lopez found and identified gray pieces of matter from the semi-truck’s exhaust system at the specific origin areas of the individual fires, along the highway. He brought pieces of the matter to the deposition, where they were photographed and where they could be clearly examined and identified. Many of the pieces that Chief Lopez brought were large in size (spanning several inches or more), leading him to conclude that they derived from a semi-truck and not an ordinary passenger vehicle. They also displayed a distinct honeycomb texture, something typically associated with DPF devices. Remarkably, the pieces that Chief Lopez brought with him were largely intact, though some were severely charred and melted, allowing one to easily imagine how these large pieces of matter (violently blasted from the barrel of the semi-truck’s exhaust system at red-hot temperatures) would be certain to ignite dry grass and other flammable materials that often lie along or near highway lanes and roads.

    When Chief Lopez was asked about how many other similar fires he had investigated that involved particulate from an exhaust, he answered that the number was somewhere between ten (10) and fifty (50) other fires. These incidents of fires caused by malfunctioning DPF – and these are just those that Chief Lopez has himself personally investigated – is something that cannot be ignored. Yet, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) refuses to investigate and continues to deny there is a problem here – the DPF device – which CARB has mandated for all large trucks and school buses and now enforces throughout the state of California.

    Moreover, CARB now wishes to shut down a public discussion about the safety of DPFs by dismissing the Alliance’s lawsuit against them before the case can reach trial, or even an evidentiary hearing stage. The Alliance has been gathering evidence on DPF safety and the link between DPF devices and continuing numerous truck and bus fires throughout the state, for nearly two years now. CARB is well aware of this fact and is trying to suppress further investigation and to halt the impending trial on the matter, before it suffers further public embarrassment and scrutiny.

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