Shawnee veterinarian says pushing 1 button could have prevented pickup fire

SHAWNEE, Okla. - A local veterinarian has a warning after his pickup and pasture went up in flames. He said, later, a mechanic told him - if he would have hit one button - it all could have been prevented.

"I've driven thousands of miles in the mud and got stuck lots of times with the old two-wheel drive vehicles and stuff but never got stuck as easy as I did in my 4-wheel-drive, brand new vehicle," said Dr. Mike Steward, a veterinarian in Shawnee.

Steward was tending to his herd, like any normal day, when suddenly his 2016 pickup became stuck in the mud.

"The faster I went, the slower it got because - unbeknownst to me - the automatic braking system was putting brakes on my tires as they slipped in the mud," he said.

The braking system - traction control.

"It's a vehicle with squiggly lines behind each tire," Steward said. "It's useful on ice, but it's absolutely worthless and will get you hurt in the mud."

Steward said, while he was trying to get his vehicle to go forward, his catalytic converter heated up and eventually sparked a grass fire. Before he knew it, his pickup, with less than 15,000 miles, was up in flames.

"I jumped out immediately, and my truck was on fire or the grass was on fire because the catalytic converter underneath there will set your vehicle on fire real fast," he said.

Thankfully, Steward had some water in the bed of his truck and a tractor and disc nearby and was able to contain the fire but not before it caused quite a bit of devastation.

Steward lost his pickup, veterinary equipment and 30 acres of his land was charred.

"All ranchers and farmers typically drive through the mud, and we drive through pastures and stuff, so we realize there's a fire hazard," he said. "But, in fact, it all would have been prevented if I would have known about flipping the traction control switch."

News 4 spoke to a local car expert who said you need to turn off your traction control to get out of the mud, sand and snow.

Steward had some cattle and horses near where the fire happened but, thankfully, they were all okay.

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