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Another reason to keep your tires properly inflated: Wildfires

One woman's insistence on driving on the rim actually started a pretty gnarly wildfire in California.

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HEALDSBURG, CA - MAY 1: Cal Fire and CDF helicopters battle a fast-moving wildfire in close proximity to vineyards in Knights Valley on May 1, 2013, near Healdsburg, California. Warm temperatures and a dry spring have accelerated plant growth, with vintners across the state expecting an early and large grape harvest this fall. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
George Rose, Getty Images

There is never a good reason to drive on a flat tire. At best, it tanks your fuel economy. At worst, it will come off the rim and that rim will start a 450-acre California wildfire. No, I'm not making up, that actually happened in Northern California.

The California Highway Patrol arrested Renee Hogan on suspicion of driving under the influence, the Associated Press reports. Hogan was allegedly driving on her car's wheel rim, lacking a tire. The friction between the metal rim and the road caused the rim to emit sparks, which started wildfires that have thus claimed some 450 acres of land.

The fire was only 15 percent contained at the time of AP's report. Homeowners noticed the fire and attempted to put out hot spots, but conditions allowed the fire to grow. The fire also claimed Hogan's car, if you're into the whole karma-retribution thing. Thankfully, the fires have injured no one, and no buildings have burned, although there was a temporary evacuation order.

It's important to pay attention to your tires. Newer cars have monitoring systems that will bring up a little amber light that looks like a flat tire when the pressure drops below a certain amount. Underinflated tires can help with off-road traction, but on the road, they eat up fuel economy and can screw up the tire sidewall, which could lead to total tread separation.

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