KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Neighbors living along the 1300 block of Meadowbrook Street say they heard a popping noise and when they looked toward the sound, they discovered a car engulfed in orange flames outside a neighbor’s home in their driveway.
Some started recording the fire on their phone. Others ran to tell the couple living inside the house what was happening.
“The neighbor drove by and came to the door and said, 'Call 911 your car is on fire,'” said car owner Brenda Lwin. “And I looked out and the engine was in a full blaze.”
Lwin said the car was a 2017 KIA Sportage that they bought new two years ago. She said it was well maintained with regular oil changes.
She said they even recently took the car in and received the suggested software upgrade that Kia had recommended earlier in the year. That’s why she and her husband can’t understand why or how the car caught fire especially since it had been sitting in the driveway since Wednesday afternoon.
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“I’m thinking what in the world has happened? You just drove this car and there’s nothing wrong with it wrong with this car,” Lwin said. “We bought it brand new.
The fire report from the Kissimmee Fire Department states there is an active and open recall on this model Kia and that the fire does not appear to be suspicious in nature. The report stated Kia Motors America was also notified and that the state fire marshal was requested to inspect the vehicle.
Fortunately for the couple, firefighters managed to stop the fire before it spread too far. Only the car and nearby trash bins were badly damaged.
“I was worried about our house and our RV catching fire,” Lwin said. “My heart was pounding. It was so upsetting.”
According to the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit watchdog organization, there was a Performance Improvement Campaign for the 2014-2018 Kia Sportage vehicles that involved a software update that created a Knock Sensor feature. According to executive director Jason Levine, the idea was that if the sensor went off the consumer was supposed to bring the vehicle in for servicing prior to a rod being thrown.
However, Levine points out that in January 2019, Kia recalled the Sportage in order “to inspect the connections of the high pressure fuel pipe to the fuel pump outlet for fuel leaking. If leaking fuel is detected, the fuel pipe will be replaced and properly installed with a new one.”
The risk, of course, is that leaking fuel can lead to fire.
“It is very hard to say without knowing more about whether this particular vehicle underwent the recall, whether this particular fire is related to the thousands of non-collision fires in Kia and Hyundai vehicles that we have been asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be more aggressive about getting recalled,” Levine said. “However, it is sad to say that right now, it is hardly a surprise to see a Kia on fire, despite not being involved in a crash.”
News 6 contacted Kia Motor America about this recent Kia fire, and is currently awaiting a statement.