|Number of 1998-2015 vehicle fire incidents in Sweden, intentional burning|
|Source: Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency statistics database.|
A motor vehicle contains many types of flammable materials, including flammable liquids like gasoline and oil as well as solid combustibles such as hose. Fuel leaks from ruptured fuel lines also can rapidly ignite, especially in petrol fuelled cars where sparks are possible in the engine compartment. Fires with casualties have been caused by ozone cracking of nitrile rubber fuel lines for example.
In the UK, accidental car fires are declining but deliberate car fires (arson) are increasing. There are approximately the same number of deliberate car fires as there are accidental car fires in the UK. It is common for joyriders to set fire to stolen cars: abandoned cars are commonly set on fire by vandals. Around two cars out of every thousand registered in the UK catch fire each year.
It is often the case in accidental auto fires that the bulk of the fire is (at least initially) contained in the engine compartment of the vehicle. In most vehicles, the passenger compartment is protected from engine compartment fire by a firewall. However, in case of arson, the fire does not always start in the interior or spread there. It is mandatory to carry an in-car fire extinguisher in some countries, such as Belgium, Bulgaria and Poland.
From 2003 to 2007 in the United States, there were 280,000 car fires per year, which caused 480 deaths.
While some cases of deliberate car fires are isolated incidents, committed clandestinely, the practice is publicly performed by either rioters and revelers, with little to no retribution. Some tragic vehicle fires have received wide publicity, some evidently due to accident or mechanical or electrical problems, and other due to crimes.
- French riots. Over a three-week span in October and November, 8,973 cars were set ablaze in multiple cities, including suburbs of Paris.
- Wilmer, Texas bus disaster. On September 23, in the small town of Wilmer, a bus evacuating elderly residents burned after a tire caught fire due to lack of lubrication. Twenty-three passengers died, 2 were seriously injured, and 19 other passengers and the bus's driver sustained minor injuries 
- New Year's Eve in France, 1,147 cars set ablaze
- June 5 Chengdu bus fire was a mass murder-suicide in Sichuan, China. killing 27 and injuring 76. There were similar fires in Shenzhen on June 13, in Wuhai on June 15 and in Zhoushan, Zhejiang on June 16. There was no evidence initially of any terrorist connection, and no passengers were killed in the three other bus fires.
- October 22 Christopher Monfort is suspected of firebombing police cars in Seattle as part of a campaign of terrorism against the police that included murdering a police officer.
- New Year's Eve in France, 1,137 cars set ablaze, 17 set ablaze in The Hague.
- New Year's Eve in France, 1,193 cars set ablaze
- May 4, Five women were killed in a limousine fire on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge over the San Francisco Bay. The driver believed the fire was caused by an electrical problem. It was later linked to a failure of the air springs which caused scraping against the road, causing the fire.
- May 13, In Summercourt England a fire destroyed 35 buses - one-third of Western Greyhound's fleet - at a bus depot. Investigators determined the fire was probably arson.
- May 25, A school bus in Pakistan burst into flame, killing 16 children and a teacher. It is believed to be an accident caused by a short-circuit next to a leaking gas tank and occurred about 120 miles from Islamabad
- June 7, In Xiamen China, an unemployed and impoverished Chen Shuizong left a suicide note explaining why he set off an explosion that engulfed a bus in flames and killed 47 people.
- Around the 2015 French National Day, 721 vehicles were burned in France.
- 2015 Tianjin explosions. Thousands of cars, including new vehicles on shipping lots, were destroyed in large scale fires started by several massive explosions at a nearby logistics company.
- In the summer of 2016, Malmö in Sweden suffered a series of fires where 70 vehicles were destroyed. Around half the fires took place in Rosengård, a socially deprived area.
- During the evenings 13 and 14 July, around the French National Day celebrations in France, 897 cars were burned by undisclosed people. 631 were set afire and a further 266 caught fire in the conflagrations.
- In August 2017, several vehicles were set afire around Malmö including a garage complex where 15 vehicles were destroyed.
- On the evening of 13 Augusti 2018 in Sweden, 89 vehicles were set on fire in several districts in Gothenburg and Trollhättan, in what police assumed was a coordinated attack. In total, 11 different locations were targeted. In Trollhättan a road was barricaded and rocks were thrown at police. Nobody was arrested at the scenes, instead police had "concerned dialogues" with them and their parents. The unidentified assailants were described as "youth". The following day, two individuals were arrested on suspicion of aggravated arson. The following night, 33 cars were set on fire in Mölndal, Borås, Vänersborg and Frölunda. A third suspect was arrested in Turkey when he tried to enter that country.
- June 17, Östberga, Sweden: between 10-20 vehicles destroyed in an arson attack on a garage.
- January 7, Sola, Norway: between 200-300 vehicles destroyed in a parking garage on Sola airport, due to a spontaneous fire in an Opel Zafira. No lives were lost. 
Listed by number of casualties
- June 7, 2013, In the Xiamen Bus Fire, a bus in China was blown up and quickly caught fire was set on fire due to a mass murder-suicide attack, which was planned to blow up the bus, killing 47 people and injuring 34 others.
- June 5, 2009, Chengdu bus fire killed 27 and injured 76.
- September 23, 2005, In the Wilmer Texas bus disaster, 23 passengers died, 2 were seriously injured and 19 and the driver received minor injuries 
- May 25, 2013, A School Bus in Pakistan bursts into flames, killing 16 children and a teacher.
- May 4, 2013, 5 Women are killed in a limousine fire on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge over the San Francisco Bay.
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