2009 Chevy Silverado Inferno

My father in law has a cabin in the southern tier of WNY and his truck caught on fire. He went down there to go hunting and a few weeks back had an offer from a tree company to take his trees down for x amount of dollars. This cabin is 10 miles up a hill and is on poorly maintained roads. To get to the cabin you have to go up a driveway that’s about 100 yards long with a decent up slope. Due to tree branches and tree remains he could not get up the driveway so he left it off of the main road but at the bottome of the driveway. On saturday he tried to get the truck up the driveway and after trying the truck caught fire in the engine bay. The truck is a total loss but the insurance company is going to cover it. Does anyone have any idea how this may have started? This truck is a 2009 with a 5.3 and 4k miles on it roughly. I do have pics at the following link:


Thanks in advance, Steve

I clicked on the snapfish link but it wanted me to “sign up” to their site in order to see all the photos, so all I could see was the first one that shows the view of left front fender, and drivers door. I can’t tell much from that pic.exept IT WAS ONE HOT FIRE !!! It had to be a FUEL GENERATED fire just because of the severity and the heat sign. There is not much to burn under a hood except hoses, belts, & a few plastic pieces. I’m guessing it caught fire WHILE it was running and your father jumped out & LEFT IT RUNNING. This would explain why it was such an intense fire. The fuel pump would have continued to keep pumping fuel onto the fire untill the engine finally died, from lack of fuel or the ignition wires burning up.
As far as the root cause, I would need more info;

  • Did he notice the engine overheating on the 10 mile drive up the hill?
  • How long did he attempt to drive up the driveway on the 2nd day?
  • How long had the engine been running continuously?
  • What is his explanation of what happend?
  • What did he see first?
    As far as determineing what was the exact cause I don’t think photos are going to do me any good because you can’t really see what you need to see in a photo. You really have to be there. If you can answer the questions that will be of more help.
    Why wouldn’t this be a warranty problem?
    The truck’s brand new!! I’m thinking there are going to be some heated discussions between the Ins. co. and G.M.'s warranty dept. lol

Do you have a photo that is taken with direct sunlight shining on the entire engine compartment? Anything that is shaded by the hood is difficult to see.
This would/might be helpful in determining the origin

How labor intensive is it to sign up at the “snapfish photo site” so that I could view all your photos of the truck?

The following is from my father in law on how he seen this all happen. The truck was not overheating. The duration of the vehicle being stuck was maybe 5 minuites. He drove 5 miles before he tried to get the truck up the hill of the driveway. He pulled into the driveway and tried to get the truck out of the rut. So within 5 minuites of trying to get the truck out of the rut, he noticed smoke coming up into the cab on the passenger side of the truck. After he noticed the smoke he then turned off the truck in attempt to extinguish the fire under the truck. From there the fire became out of control and the pics show the end result.

I would guess that a stick got jammed into a fuel line and busted it near the cat converter. Just my guess. I would think that one of the branches got one side jammed down into a rut and the high end stuck the fuel line. However I would not share that with the insurer since it is not a public road and a private company was putting the detritus on to the private road.

OK, on my Chevy truck the fuel lines run under the drivers side frame rail so apparently it didn’t start as a fuel fire but definitely ended as one. The cat and exhaust are run down the RIGHT (passenger) side so as the other poster said it could have been the cat starting the fire. It wouldn’t have started the fuel lines on fire though. That is why they run the fuel lines on the LEFT side to keep them away from the hot cat.con. on the right side.
You mention in todays post that he was “stuck” in a rut… The truck had to be sitting on or over dry grass or pine branches or something combustable? Since it was sitting in a rut, this would make the cat. con. even closer to the ground and make it just that much easier to lite the grass or brush on fire. Add to that the fact that he sat there with it running for 5 minutes in one spot and it’s easy to see how hot the ground underneath the cat. con. would get.
It had to start the grass or brush on fire and once the fire was going under the truck it lit the undercoating on fire, and it spread foreward from there.
The fuel lines are plastic lines wrapped in steel braided line, but once the fire spread to the left side under the truck the plastic lines would have melted and then the fuel would have started feeding the fire. This is going to be obvious to the insurance inspector if he takes a good look “under” the truck. They know what an engine fire looks like and engine fires usually are confined to the frontal area with not too much fire or damage happening to the underside of the vehicle. If he looks and sees fire signs back by the cat. con. he’s going to know where it started.
Is his insurance good when he takes it offroad?
If he does not know, DON’T let him call the ins. co. and ask. This would tip them off, that he might have been offroad.
If they haven’t interviewed him yet, you need to make him forget that the fire started “under the truck” lol… I’m not advocating lieing to the insurance co. but Prez. Clinton lied under oath, and he never went to jail.
I’d suggest to him that he must have first noticed smoke and fire up front in the engine compartment. You don’t want to give the investigator a reason to look under the truck. Hope this helps… keep us posted…