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The Investigators
We uncover a hidden danger in pop-up campers
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5-thousand camper fires are reported every year and tonight- Eyewitness News reveals a potential hidden danger. A fire hazard that could go overlooked.

Dealers say Coleman pop-up campers are the top selling folding trailers in the country. They say it's like a tent on wheels...but would you put a stove in a tent?. There's one in the popup...a stove surrounded by curtains which the investigators have discovered are flammable.

That's surprising to even veteran campers. "I would say i'm 99 percent sure they are fire retardant" Bill Bryant says he's not concerned. After all, the pop-ups have this seal of approval by the recreation vehicle industry association touting it's plumbing, electrical and fire safety. 

Steve Moran is the president of Arlington RV Supercenter in Warwick. Moran says RVIA requires all trailers to be fire-rated according to the national highway traffic safety administration standard 302. However, the federal agency tells Eyewitness News the popups are exempt from that regulation because they're not occupied when moving on the highway- "regulation pa 21317"

So even though most items inside the popup camper are coded, they don't have to be and the curtains are not. And Eyewitness News found that they can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.

"We purchased the exact curtain that would be in the camper and check out the label it even describes it as a safety curtain, let's put it to the test and see how safe it really is"

We conducted an un-scientific test burn with help from the Lake Mishnock fire company in West Greenwich with safety precautions in place, captain greg hitchcock lit the curtain� in just 14 seconds the flame spread�within 25 seconds the curtain was engulfed

"I would not put a curtain like this behind a stove I wouldn't have it at all"

"It would cause a chain reaction and jump curtain to curtain" �perhaps blocking the main way out�even the emergency exit�the sign tucked behind this curtain.

Eyewitness News discovered the pop-up campers do fall under section 1192 of the national fire protection association which says ... "a material shall not burn...at a rate of more than 102 mm per minute"

Our test, although unscientific, shows the curtain burned much faster than the required rate. Still, the code is a voluntary standard and is not enforcable . Manufacturers caution campers that curtains should be secured at all times�and the stove operated with these safety shields in place.

Since the station nightclub tragedy, the state is strengthening fire code issues. However, the state fire marshal's office tells Eyewitness News the pop-up campers will still fall under unenforceable codes.

The chief inspector tells us he's disappointed and believes the federal highway administration should enforce fire safety in these campers.

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