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Updated: Fisker Karma to Blame for Texas House Fire?
Reports are starting to emerge of a house fire in Sugar Land, Texas alledged to have been started by a Fisker Karma. Pictures show that a badly damaged garage and the burnt out remains what we are told is a Fisker Karma. The owner parked the Fisker in his garage, within minutes the hybrid sedan was on fire. The car was not plugged in at the time and we’re told that the battery remains intact.
Autoweek quotes Fort Bend County, Texas, chief fire investigator Robert Baker, “Yes, the Karma was the origin of the fire, but what exactly caused that we don’t know at this time.” No injuries were caused by the fire, however, the pictures clearly show two wrecked vehicles and a lot of fire damage to the house. Baker goes on to liken the scene to that of the fifty or so random golf cart fires he attends every year.
The car had been purchased less than sixty days ago. Aside from the total loss of the Karma, fire damage spread to the third floor of the new build house. Damage is estimate at $ 100,000, not including two other vehicles in the garage, a Mercedes-Benz SUV and an Acura NSX, both total losses.
Fisker released a statement:
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.
Fisker have declined to comment on the incident until all the facts are known.
Autoweek received correspondence from the owner’s solicitor that sheds further light on the situation:
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.
Despite the fact public safety and law enforcement officials have determined Mr. Gutierrez’s home and vehicles are not a crime scene, Fisker Automotive released a public statement on May 8, 2012 implying fraud or malicious intent were open questions. The family is stunned by this implication. The Gutierrez family has afforded every accommodation to Fisker and access to all evidence that public safety and law enforcement official examined. Fisker’s statement is a grave disappointment, especially in light of the damages the family suffered and continues to suffer.
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. Please direct all inquires on the matter to our firm; do not contact Mr. or Mrs. Gutierrez directly. Attorneys for the family, Lori Hood or Rafe Taylor, can be reached at (713) 222-2323.