« | »

Official: Fisker Karma Caused TX House Fire

From Autoweek:

Official claims Fisker Karma to blame in Texas house fire

By: David Arnouts
May 9, 2012

Last week, a fire badly damaged the home of a new Fisker Karma owner, and authorities are saying that the electric car was the source of the blaze.

According to Fort Bend County, Texas, chief fire investigator Robert Baker, the Fisker Karma started the fire that spread to the house. “Yes, the Karma was the origin of the fire, but what exactly caused that we don’t know at this time,” he said. The car was a complete loss.

According to Baker, the driver arrived home in the Fisker, pulled into the garage, and less than three minutes later the car was in flames. It reportedly was not plugged in at the time of the fire and the Karma’s battery remains intact.

Right before the fire, the owner reported a smell of burning rubber. “The car was brand-new,” said Baker. “He still had paper tags on it, so it was 60 days old at [most].” According to Baker, the Karma was a post-recall vehicle bought in April.

There was substantial damage to the garage, which then spread to the second floor. No injures were attributed to incident. The house was new, but the owner had already moved in.

Baker estimated damages at roughly $100,000, not including the other two vehicles in the garage, a Mercedes-Benz SUV and an Acura NSX.

“This looks just like golf cart fires we have down here,” said Baker. The suburban Houston area has approximately 50 golf cart fires a year, he said.

That is one expensive golf cart, given that new Fisker Karmas cost over $107,000 dollars.

“I’ve worked homicide scenes with less secrecy,” Baker added. “There have to be about 15 engineers down here working on this one.”

Why all the secrecy from Fisker?

While Baker seems certain of his conclusions, the incident is the subject of an ongoing investigation, and an official report is expected in the near future.

When reached for comment, Fisker had this to say:

Last week, Fisker Automotive was made aware of a garage fire involving three vehicles, including a Karma sedan, that were parked at a newly-constructed residence in Sugar Land, Texas. There were no injuries.

There are conflicting reports and uncertainty surrounding this particular incident. The cause of the fire is not yet known and is being investigated.

We have not yet seen any written report form the Fort Bend fire department and believe that their investigation is continuing. As of now, multiple insurance investigators are involved, and we have not ruled out possible fraud or malicious intent. 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 will continue to participate fully in the investigation but will not be commenting further until all the facts are established.

Update — Editor’s note: Autoweek received the following statement from the attorneys representing the Fisker Karma owner, Jeremy Gutierrez. The statement is reproduced below:

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…

All of which would seem to be bad public relations.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, May 11th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Official: Fisker Karma Caused TX House Fire”

  1. AcornsRNutz says:

    HA! Hard to show off to all your rich liberal friends and demonstrate to the world your overwhelming guilt at being a human and by dint of your existence destroying the planet when your 107,000 dollar green leaf sticker is no more than a charred hulk. I guess its back to the lightly scorched NSX or Mercedes SUV with the “coexist” sticker on the bumper.

    Too bad, I bet the company is bummed to realize that, when engulfed in flames, the carbon footprint of this idiotic car is much higher than that of my supercharged V8 pickup truck.

  2. untrainable says:

    Fisker has its own S.W.A.T.team? What does SWAT stand for? Specialists in Wild Ass Testimony?
    You can bet the Fisker team will conclude that the car at the center of the destruction had nothing to do with the fire that engulfed it. Must’ve been a hellspawn emerging from the netherworld in the Gutierrez’s garage. Or maybe it was their Mercedes spontaneously combusting. After all it was an S.U.V.

  3. P. Aaron says:

    What kind of carbon footprint did all that fire & smoke create?

  4. GetBackJack says:

    Well, this is curious.

    Prius(s) don’t explode and cause fires. Golf carts have been around forever and they don’t explode and catch fire. 90% of my power hand tools have Lithium Ion battery packs and they don’t explode and burn down my shop. So,what gives?

    Battery technology and deployment has been around for a century and is pretty damn stable. So, asking again … WTH?

    Here’s my two cents – and you’ll think I’m nuts – but here goes …

    Qui Bono?

    One thing is certain. The AFL/CIO was pretty fricking upset to learn this Administration was capitalizing extra-national car companies with money they see as having earned for their Unions by jamming up the last election so Obama could get elected and keep the car businesses in business they had bankrupted.

    Personally, I’d look for an AFL/CIO goon who smells like an acccelerant.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »