Newly-built mansion burns down after owner’s two-week old $100,000 electric car catches fire in the garage
Daily Mail: A luxury electric car is claimed to be the source of a fire which engulfed the owner’s new mansion causing hundreds of thousands dollars’ worth of damage.
Jeremy Gutierrez had parked his brand new Fisker Karma car in his garage – on the ground floor of the property – just minutes before it allegedly set alight and caused the ensuing house fire in Sugar Land, Texas. Although local investigators have ruled that the vehicle started the fire, the car’s manufacturers have said that ‘fraud or malicious intent’ remain possibilities.
Gutierrez was able to rescue his wife, mother and child from the burning house before anyone was injured, according to his lawyers.
Robert Baker, Fort Bend County’s chief fire investigator, has said that the car was the origin of the blaze, ruled that the fire was accidental but said the cause of the fire is still unknown.
However Fisker Automotive, who recalled all their Karma cars at the end of last year and then released them back onto the market, have said that the cause of the fire is not yet known.
In a statement released to Autoweek the company said: ‘As of now, multiple insurance investigators are involved, and we have not ruled out possible fraud or malicious intent.’
Gutierrez, the president of iEnergy North America, said that he smelt burning rubber coming from the car, which he had brought two weeks earlier, shortly before the fire broke out on May 2. The Karma, an electric hybrid, which sells for approximately $100,000, was not plugged in when the fire broke out.
The car was totally destroyed in the blaze as were the family’s two other cars in the garage – a Mercedes Benz SUV and an Acura NSX. The flames then spread to the second floor of the family’s newly built home – destroying the child’s bedroom.
An investigation into the incident was immediately launched with Fisker Automotive dispatching a team of their own forensic investigators and engineers to Gutierrez’s home, who closed off the scene for 24 hours and interviewed witnesses.
Fisker Automotive pointed to fireworks and an electrical panel that were found in the garage and argued that the Karma’s battery was still in tact and ‘does not appear to have been a contributing factor in this incident.’
However, Baker said that these items had not started the fire. ‘Everything we have leads back to inside that vehicle, or inside the engine compartment of that vehicle, which seems to be some kind of malfunction or whatever in there,’ Baker told Click 2 Houston.
More than 200 Karmas were recalled at the end of 2011 after workers discovered a potential coolant leak in battery packs which could lead to electrical shorts, according to the company’s website. Officials later stated the potential problem had been corrected and the vehicles were put back on the roads.
Lawyers for the Gutierrez family said their clients were ‘stunned’ by Fisker’s statement implying that fraud or malicious intent were possibilities. The Gutierrez family are living in temporary accommodation while the investigation continues.
Currently, Fisker Karmas have not been recalled although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are aware of the incident.
No way on earth am I ever buying an electric car!