Jul 222012

There may be more than a million Ford vehicles on the road carrying a faulty, recalled component that was held accountable for a recent fire in Austin, Texas. That fire, which started in a Ford F150 pickup, killed two young kids.


The fire started at 3 a.m. on Tues when two kids, ages seven and five, were sleeping in a garage converted into a bedroom.

Denise Estrada, a neighbor, was awakened by the noise of the fire, thinking it was gunfire. She said:

“I just heard screaming and popping.”

The remaining five members of the family made it out safely, but the two kids died, probably from smoke inhalation.

Estrada explained:

“The father was going in and out with a paint mask, trying to get his kids, but they (the fire crews) wouldn’t let him inside and he was yelling out ‘They’re in the garage, please help them.’ … They’re like so little, nice kids, and in a minute they’re gone.”

Cruise control switch recalled

There was a 2001 Ford F150 pickup parked right next to the garage, and that is being blamed for the fire. There were 800,000 Fords recalled in 2005 by regulators because of a failed cruise control switch that could cause fires.

According to Ford, the defective switch was actually put in 4.3 million automobiles, but only 2.5 million were fixed. With Ford’s large estimate, it is unknown why so few automobiles were recalled.

Affected owners got a reminder letter from Ford in 2010. It read:

“(A) fire can occur at any point, even if the key is not in the ignition.”

How many recalls are ignored?

Brandy Shaw is another neighbor who said:

“It makes me wonder how many other vehicles, how many other companies, how many other brands have recalls that nobody knows about.”

Owners of older fords might still need to go get their automobiles checked, and now that this has happened, many of them might do so. If you look up your VIN number and check it against the ones that have been recalled, you can find out if your car is secure. At the safe car site, you can look at recalled vehicles.

Separate fire the same night

In Austin, a 95-year-old woman passed away in a fire that same night. Investigators said that neither of the places had smoke detectors which were working in them.

According to Fire Chief Thayer Smith:

“Being able to remember multiple fatalities in multiple locations across the city at the same time, that’s not something I can remember us having to deal with in the past.”

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