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Hand sanitizer on dashboard erupts into flames in Waukegan

Authorities believe that heat from the sunlight helped start the fire.

A car was badly burned June 18, 2020, after hand sanitizer started on fire.
A car was badly burned June 18, 2020, after hand sanitizer started on fire.
Waukegan police

A bottle of hand sanitizer left on a car’s dashboard erupted into flames in north suburban Waukegan Thursday, badly damaging the car.

Authorities believe that heat from the sunlight partly caused the fire, Waukegan Fire Department spokesman Steven Lenzi said in a statement.

“It appears sunlight shining through the windshield onto the sanitizer was enough to cause the ignition,” Lenzi said.

The fire appeared to extinguish itself due to lack of oxygen before firefighters arrived in the 400 block of Pioneer Road, Lenzi said. No one was hurt.

The car owner told investigators he had refilled the bottle with sanitizer — supplied by his employer — that was 80% alcohol.

Lenzi said the fire department is aware of other similar incidents, and attributed the trend to people using hand sanitizers that have a higher concentration of alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the heat of summer is near we strongly recommend that hand sanitizers not be kept in cars,” Lenzi said.