Improper use of trailer hitch luggage rack could pose dangers - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Improper use of trailer hitch luggage rack could pose dangers

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

You might remember seeing this devastating story on WTOC. 

It was a bride's worst nightmare. The day before her wedding, her luggage goes up in flames, sitting on her luggage rack.

We are learning more about how this fire may have started and that it may have been prevented.

It was supposed to be a romantic wedding weekend in Savannah for Sarah Giacinti

"I'm marrying my best friend. What more could you ask for," she said.

But the love may have been burning a little too strong.

On the drive from Gainesville, she noticed flames and smoke coming from the back her car.

"I was like 'oh my God.' So we pulled over, ripped the luggage rack off the Jeep. The suitcase was totally engulfed in flames. It was crazy," she said.

Her luggage caught fire. This bride to be lost her clothes and handmade wedding decorations.

Luckily her dress was in another car, but just looking at the damage, and trying to figure out how this happened, investigators said this fire may have been preventable.

Fire Investigator Mark Wright said those types of luggage racks allow the bags to sit too close to the exhaust pipe.

"The heat coming out of the exhaust. Heat does what? It rises. So that luggage rack and that nylon bag is in the perfect position for all those gases to come up on the bottom of that bag and on that rack, transferring that heat energy right there in the absorbtion of that black bag," said Wright.  

Wright said the exhaust can get so hot, it will actually ignite the nylon luggage sitting right in front of it.

Between that and the metal rack, Wright said this was the perfect scenario to start and fuel a fire.

"With what I'm seeing on the burn pattern on the rack and in the bag, I'm probably going to say we've got the conduction, the convection and the radiant heat. And we've got all three things in the fire triangle right there in that exhaust."he said.

This doesn't seem to be a wide spread issue, but we did find one reviewer on Amazon.com who had the exact same issue, warning other consumers of the danger.

While we dont know the manufacturer of this luggage rack, most brands have warnings, instructing the user not to place any cargo directly in front of the exhaust pipe.

However, not all manuals have obvious warnings, so knowing how to use them properly could prevent this from happening to you.

"The placement of the material. If we had the nylon bag on the other side of the rack and left that side of the rack open, we probably wouldn't have had a problem," said Wright.  

As for this bride, she's just happy her hitch didn't stop her from getting hitched here in Savannah.

"I'm just glad to be alive," said Giacinti. "It could have been much much worse."

Giacinti had a beautiful wedding Saturday in Orleans Square, and she just hopes people can learn from what happened to her.

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