The new Facebook post reads:
“Our goal in the [Western Lakes Fire District] is to provide timely, accurate, and educational information while responding to the needs of our customers. It’s become clear that a recent post about hand sanitizer was taken in many different directions from our original goal. We want to take the opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings and assure our position is understood.
While we never made the claim that the photo utilized was from our district or from an exploding container of hand sanitizer, it has become clear that that inference and speculation made is seem as though it was. It was to illustrate a door fire resulting from contact with open flame which was the center of our post.
Our message was intended to center on preventing fire or injury from the use of hand sanitizer. It also regarded the past history of issues stemming from clear bottles being stored in vehicles. These bottles typically store bottled water or as of late; hand sanitizer. While infrequent, there have been cases in the recent past were reflecting light placed through a clear bottle was able to focus onto a combustible surface and cause a fire. This has primarily been through water bottles but since hand sanitizer is often stored in the same vessel we wanted to pass it along for your safety. The principle is identical and obviously an additional issue would occur if it happened in the presence of an alcohol based product.
The open flame comment was to remind people that when hand sanitizer is wet on any surface it will ignite when exposed to flame. With the recent increase in utilization of this product we wanted to remind our customers that it’s important not to allow this to occur. Many people have been sequestered in their homes and with an upcoming holiday accompanied with nice weather we knew grilling, fire pits, and other enjoyments would be in place. While we never referenced grilling in one’s vehicle, we did center on smoking and wanted to assure that the correlation was made illustrating that is also an open flame. We didn’t want anyone injured exercising good hygiene practices and then unintentionally coming in contact with open flame. Video representation of this happening is included for our fans to watch.
We simply want our customers to be happy healthy and well and most importantly enjoy the time they have together with family and friends. Our message quickly came became misconstrued and we wanted to assure that we made it right.
We apologize for any confusion and wish you an enjoyable holiday weekend.”
In a post on Facebook, the Western Lakes Fire District wrote that most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based, which makes them flammable.
“Keeping it in your car during hot weather, exposing it to sun causing magnification of light through the bottle, and particularly being next to open flame while smoking in vehicles or grilling while enjoying this weekend can lead to disaster,” the fire department stated.
Officials included a photo of a burned-out vehicle, purportedly due to a bottle of hand sanitizer that caught on fire.
They also reiterated the risk of leaving clear plastic bottles in cars on a warm day.
“We’ve chatted in the past about clear water bottles being kept in your vehicle when the weather is warm. That still holds true and so does hand sanitizer!” the department said.
The post comes as many people have stocked up on bottles of hand sanitizer in recent months due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. State and federal officials have recommended that people wash their hands on a regular basis to prevent the spread of the virus.
Over the years, fire departments have gone on social media to warn motorists about the rare risk of a fire caused by water bottles left inside cars.
“The sunlight will come through when it’s filled with liquid, and act as a magnifying glass as you would with regular optics,” David Richardson with the Midwest Fire Department told KFOR-TV in 2017. “It uses the liquid and the clear material to develop a focused beam and sure enough, it can actually cause a fire, a combustion,” he added.
During a test, the Midwest Fire Department found that sunlight magnified through a bottle of water reached 250 degrees F. That sunlight can focus on interior materials in the car, such as the seats or mats, setting them on fire, the department added.
And in a Facebook video posted by Idaho Power in July 2017, Dioni Amuchastegui, a power station’s battery technician, said that he witnessed the incident happen.
“I was a little bit surprised actually I had to do a double take and checked it again and sure enough it was super hot. I even stuck my hand under the light, just hard to believe at first,” Amuchastegui said in the video.
Correction: The article has been updated to clarify the intent of a post from Western Lakes Fire District.