Recalled auto part causes fire, kills 2 boys

by Cornelius Nunev

A tragic fire that murdered two children in Austin, Texas is being attributed to a recalled component in a Ford F150 pickup. There may be over a million more impacted vehicles on the road.

Death of two kids

The seven and five year old kids were sleeping in a bedroom in the garage when the fire started. It started on Tues at 3 a.m.

Denise Estrada, a neighbor, was awakened by the sound 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 perished, most likely from smoke inhalation.

According to Estrada:

"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."

Fire attributed to switch

In 2005, 800,000 Fords were recalled by federal safety regulators because of a failed cruise control switch that could trigger fires occasionally. Detectives think that the fire started with a 2001 Ford F150 pickup parking next to the garage for that very reason.

However, Ford estimates that there may have been as many as 4.3 million automobiles made with the defective switch. Yet only around 2.5 million have been repaired by the automaker. It is unclear why so few vehicles were recalled if the issue is as widespread as Ford's estimate.

In 2010, Ford problems a reminder letter to affected owners. That letter read, in part:

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

How many recalls are ignored?

One other neighbor was Brandy Shaw. Shaw described concerns:

"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 vehicles 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 automobiles.

Same night results in troubles

Meanwhile, a 95-year-old woman was killed in a separate fire in Austin the same night. Investigators say there were no operable smoke detectors in place at either tragic location.

Fire Chief Thayer Smith said:

"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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