You may wonder why an American columnist would want to talk about the proper technique of burning cars, but that's exactly what Slate's Daniel Engber did in an article entitled, So, You Wanna Torch a Peugot? Forget the al Qaeda training videos and CD-ROMs. If you want to know how to cause mayhem, one need only to turn to Slate.
A cigarette butt probably won't set off a blaze by itself, but a single sheet of newspaper, if ignited, could do the trick.
The easiest way to torch a car would be to crack open a window, douse the interior with lighter fluid, and toss in a match. If the windows aren't open or smashed, a car fire will burn itself out for lack of oxygen. (The heat, soot, and smoke from one of these contained fires will often total a car all the same.)
A fire that starts on the outside of a car is less likely to spark a serious blaze, unless burning fluid—from a molotov cocktail, perhaps—drips into the rubber door seals. Once those seals melt, the fire can get inside and ignite the passenger compartment. The rubber tubes and flammable liquids on the car's underside are also vulnerable to torching. (In a recent incident in Ohio, vandals allegedly lit up a car by piling American flags beneath it.) Fires that burn beneath a car could sustain themselves on nearby grass or dry leaves.
Thank you, Slate. Now could you please tell us all how to make a dirty bomb with medical waste?