5 On Your Side

Roxboro Family Believes SUV Fire Related To Faulty Switch

Posted September 29, 2005

— Fire ripped through Karla Tuck's Roxboro home last month. Investigators say it started in the Tucks' sports utility vehicle -- a 2001 Ford Expedition.

"We just heard something," Tuck said. "Just a loud boom."

When Tuck opened the carport door she could not believe what she saw.

"The whole front driver's side of my truck was completely engulfed," she said.

Tuck says she barely had enough time to grab her young children who were in this now burned out bedroom and get out.

"It was gone so fast, there was nothing anybody could do," Tuck said.

The Tucks are devastated both by the destruction and at the thought that the fire could have been prevented.

Though it is too early to tell for sure, they believe the fire started with a $21 cruise control switch.

Their Expedition is one of almost 4 million SUVs and trucks Ford just recalled because of malfunctioning speed control switches -- which can overheat, smoke and catch fire -- that are now suspected of causing more than 1,200 vehicle fires.

Three deaths have also been reported, but not yet officially linked to the switches.

Lawsuits are mounting against Ford over this. The car company and the federal government are in the middle of massive investigations trying to figure out why it is happening.

The Tucks say they are angry Ford did not alert owners sooner.

"Had we gotten a letter, even if it wasn't a recall, just something saying, 'You might want to have your vehicle checked,' we could still have a home, we could still have a car," Tuck said.

Ford tells WRAL the company is handling the fires, including the Tucks', "case by case." Representatives from Ford and from the Tucks' insurance company wrapped what was left of their Expedition and hauled it to a lab for testing.

Meanwhile, the Tucks worry about families who have not had their recalled vehicles repaired.

"They need to take it today -- yesterday -- to at least get it checked out," Tuck said.

The recalled vehicles include:

  • Ford Bronco 1994 - 1996
  • Ford Expedition 1997 - 2002
  • Ford F150 1994 - 2002
  • Ford F250 1994 - 1999
  • Lincoln Blackwood 2002
  • Lincoln Navigator 1998 - 2002
  • Consumers with one of these vehicles should contact their dealer to get the switch disconnected because dealerships will not get replacement parts until at least late October. Once they receive the parts, SUV owners will have go back to have them installed. In the meantime, it is critical to have those switches disconnected.

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