Firefighters in Redding, CA, were dispatched around noon March 27 to a bank parking lot after a fire broke out during a rock-chip repair on the windshield of a Ford Fusion.
During the repair, a technician from Platinum Auto Glass used the open flame of a device similar to a barbecue lighter, along with a piece of metal to deflect the heat, according to fire officials. The technique didn’t work, and the flame caught the car’s dashboard on fire.
The Ford Fusion was engulfed in flames that spread to a parked Subaru Outback next to it. No one was injured in the fire, but both cars were totaled, according to officials.
Fire officials did not elaborate on what type of heating device was used in the repair attempt, and a message seeking comment from Platinum President Ted Arellano had not been returned at press time.
The accident raises questions about the repair technique, especially the use of an open flame.
An “open flame in a vehicle is never necessary for a windshield repair,” said David Casey, president of SuperGlass Windshield Repair. “It’s also a bad practice for safety.”
Casey explained that direct heat doesn’t cure the resin filling the crack. Rather, the heat warms the glass, causing it to expand. The “legs,” the subsurface cracks emanating from the break, swell shut and disappear---but only until the glass cools.
Applying direct heat is “a technique that people use when they have filled half a star leg and can’t fill the rest properly,” Casey said. “The result is an improper repair with resin that has been exposed to super extreme heat and ruining the cure.”
Worse for the customer, Casey said, is the cracks that had swelled shut when heated will return after the glass has cooled.
According to the Better Business Bureau website, Platinum Auto Glass has operated since 2007 and has an A-plus rating.