BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Since 2015, Brunei has seen a total of 301 cases of cars spontaneously combusting, with 40 cases already recorded this year, according to statistics provided by the Fire and Rescue Department.

Last year saw the highest number of cars catching fire with 101 recorded cases — a 29 per cent increase compared to the 78 cases recorded in 2016.

The department called it a worrying trend, saying they received calls almost every day this month to report vehicles spontaneously combusting.

One of the main causes is electrical or mechanical components malfunctioning due to human negligence, said Assistant Technical Director Pg Sabli Pg Hj Damit.

“This human negligence is often the fault of the vehicle user or the mechanic, where the vehicle either has not been maintained regularly or it has been worked on by uncertified mechanics,” he said during a press conference on Thursday.

Fire and Rescue personnel douse the flames on a car that spontaneously combusted on the road. Photo: Fire and Rescue Department

From January to September this year, the extent of damage caused by these fires amounted to $212,850.

Over four years, the amount is estimated to be more than $3.8 million.

The Fire and Rescue Department encouraged people to only employ workshops with trustworthy mechanics, saying that when in doubt, they can refer to workshops that have been appointed by the Land Transport Department as vehicle inspection stations.

Pg Sabli also reminded the public to be wary of leaving electronics — such as power banks — in their cars, particularly those that have the potential to combust.

“We found that most of the cases are caused by malfunctions or [oil] leakages, which can be overcome through consistent preventive maintenance,” he said.

Pg Sabli added that some of these electronic or mechanical malfunctions are caused by car modifications carried out by uncertified mechanics, who may not meet the standards set by the authorities.