fisker karma fire
fisker karma fire - $100,000 electric car blamed for starting house fire, A $100,000 Fisker Karma electric car is being blamed for igniting a fire that burned through its owner's garage and nearly his entire home. Despite local authorities confirming that the car started the fire, Fisker Automotive has made sure that its own investigators performed an immediate probe and they have expressed doubts that the car is to blame.
After a fire engulfed a Fisker Karma owner’s garage in Sugar Land, Texas, last week, officials claim the plug-in hybrid sedan was the cause of the blaze.
According to a report from Autoweek, Robert Baker, the chief fire investigator for Fort Bend County in Texas, says the “Karma was the origin of the fire, but what exactly caused that we don’t know at this time.”
Baker says the driver parked the Karma in the garage and minutes later, the Fisker was on fire. The sedan was not plugged in at the time and no injuries were reported from the incident.
In a statement released by Fisker, the automaker says the cause of the fire “is not yet known and is being investigated,” going on to state that “multiple insurance investigators are involved, and we have not ruled out the possibility of fraud or malicious intent.”
The release also states that, “We are aware that fireworks were found in the garage in or around the vehicles. Also, an electrical panel located in the garage next to the vehicles is also being examined by the investigators as well as fire department officials. Based on initial observations and inspections, the Karma’s lithium ion battery pack was not being charged at the time and is still intact and does not appear to have been a contributing factor in this incident.”
The automaker will not comment further on the matter, “until all the facts are established.”
The fire comes less than two months after Fisker and its battery partner, A123 Systems, recalled 640 vehicles due to a possible battery defect. The Karma that supposedly started the fire was reportedly a post-recall vehicle.
UPDATE: The attorneys hired by the Fisker Karma owner have released a statement, available below.
￼￼Houston, Texas, May 9, 2012 – On the afternoon of May 2, 2012, Mr. Jeremy Gutierrez’s brand new Fisker Karma hybrid electric vehicle caught fire while parked in his garage, setting fire to his home while his wife, mother, and child were inside. Thanks to the fast action of Mr. Gutierrez, he was able to evacuate his family from the home moments before portions of the house were engulfed in flames, including his child’s bedroom.
The Fort Bend County Fire Department immediately responded to the scene and as able to contain and extinguish the fire before total destruction of the Gutierrez’s family home. The fire department recently completed their investigation and determined the origin of the fire was, in fact, Gutierrez’s newly purchased Fisker Karma hybrid electric vehicle that he just took possession of two weeks earlier. Chief Investigator for the Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office Robert N. Baker has concluded that the fire was accidental in nature.
Since the date of this incident, Mr. Gutierrez has been fully cooperative with public safety officials, as well as insurance adjusters and the vehicle manufacturer’s investigators. In fact, Mr. Gutierrez fully accommodated the precise and somewhat peculiar demands of Fisker Automotive, who sent their self-proclaimed “SWAT Team” of engineers and inspectors (that included their own forensic cause and origin investigator) to the Gutierrez home within 24 hours of the fire. They descended upon the Gutierrez home in alarming numbers and immediately demanded a 24-hour lock-down of his home, including the remains of the Fisker Karma vehicle. They also cordoned off portions of the Gutierrez home with non-transparent tarps to block the view from the public. Fisker even had access to eyewitnesses, who were interviewed by Fisker investigators and those investigators were shown video footage of the Fisker vehicle on fire before and other part of the garage. Mr. Gutierrez accommodated every request with the hope of have a full, fair and open inquiry into the cause of the Fisker vehicle fire that set his house ablaze and endangered his family.
The Gutierrez family has suffered enough. They are temporarily displaced from their home, and have lost three vehicles. They value their privacy and wish to have this investigation completed immediately so they can return to their home. The law firm of Johnson, Trent, West & Taylor, L.L.P., a Houston-based law firm, has and will continue to represent the Gutierrez family during this time.
The company, however, was quick to point out that it wasn’t a battery fire. Jon Bereisa, CEO of consultancy company Auto Lectrification, spoke with Automotive News and said that it was more likely to have been caused by the cramped engine compartment.
“That engine is shoehorned into that bay, because they had to use a larger engine, because it was too heavy a car. As a result, there’s no room for exhaust routing and heat shielding to route the heat away,” Bereisa said.
With such tight quarters, he said an oil or coolant leak could easily start a fire, which is probably what happened. Jeremy Gutierrez, the car’s owner, said he smelled rubber when the fire started, something that would align with a fire in the engine bay and not the batteries.
Fisker has since deployed a group of engineers to investigate and reach a conclusion, maintaining only that the battery was not at fault. Given the controversy that quickly enveloped the Chevrolet Volt after it caught fire, it’s understandable that Fisker is approaching the situation with caution.