Kannapolis SUV fire spreads to house, causing extensive damage

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:

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KANNAPOLIS, N.C. - Fire investigators said an SUV fire is what gutted half of a Kannapolis home Tuesday afternoon.

It happened on Lindsay Street around 3 p.m. 

Investigators said no one was in the home at the time of the fire, but one resident was in the SUV in the driveway when the fire started.  That person reported having trouble starting the vehicle and then saw flames.  The fire quickly spread from the vehicle to the attached carport and to the home, causing extensive damage, investigators said. 

Investigators said the fire was ruled an unintentional vehicle fire.

The SUV that caught fire is a 2002 Ford Expedition. That SUV is under a nationwide recall because of its fire risks. Eyewitness News did some digging to find out if that major recall on Fords is what could have caused the house fire in Kannapolis. Fire investigators can't confirm if that's the case, but said they aren't ruling the possibility out.

Nearly 20 million Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys have been recalled since 1992 because of a faulty cruise control switch. Ford found that brake fluid could leak through the cruise deactivation switch into the cruise system's electrical components and cause corrosion. Corrosion can cause a short and keep the cruise control from working, but in some cases it can lead to a higher flow of current that can overheat and cause a fire at the switch.

The recall covers cars sold between 1992 and 2004.

The Expedition's owner, Ariel Perez, bought his 2002 model in 2009. He said he bought it from a used car dealership and that he was never told about the massive recall. He said he came home from work and five minutes later he went outside to see his SUV engulfed in flames that were spreading to his house.

"He had no idea, he said the car was perfect and everything until that occurred," said Liliana Velazquez.

Since Perez doesn't speak English very well, Liliana Velazquez helped translate when we spoke to him. He said he's always taken care of his car and would regularly take it in for scheduled service. Perez said the only other time that something similar to this happened was a few months ago.

"It happened about five or six months ago. He was at work and then smoke started to come out of the car," said Velazquez.

Now Perez is without a car and home. Ten people lived inside the house, two families, four adults, and six kids. The Red Cross was called in to assist.

Perez said he'll report the problem to Ford to see if he can get a new truck.

If your car catches fire or if you think your car is under that recall, file a claim through your insurance company. You should also report it to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To report a fire incident with any vehicle, visit the website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ or http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/ or call 1-888-DASH-2-DOT. By U.S. mail, contact the NHTSA at:
U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Office of Defects Investigation
NSA-10.01, 400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590

The recalled cars include:
Cars
1992-1998 Ford Crown Victoria
1992-1998 Lincoln Town Car
1992-1998 Mercury Grand Marquis
1993-1995 Ford Taurus SHO
1993-1998 Lincoln Mark VIII
1994 Mercury Capri

SUVs
1993-1996 Ford Bronco
1997-2002 Ford Expedition
1998-2001 Ford Explorer
1998-2001 Mercury Mountaineer
1998-2002 Lincoln Navigator
2000-2003 Ford Excursion
2001-2002 Ford Explorer Sport
2001-2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

Pickup Trucks
1993-2004 Ford F-150
1993-2003 Ford F-250
1993-1999 Ford F-250

Gas engine
 1993-2003 Ford F-350
1993-2003 Ford F-450
1993-2003 Ford F-550
1993-2002 F series Super Duty
1998-2002 Ford Ranger
2001 F-Series Super Crew
2002-2003 Lincoln Blackwood
2003-2004 Ford F-150 Lightning

Vans
1992-1993, 1997-2003 E150-350 1994-1996 Ford Econoline 1996-2003
Ford E-450 gas or natural gas
2002 Ford E-550 gas

RVs and Motorhomes
1995-2002 Ford F53 Motor Home

VEHICLES WITH THE SAME OR SIMILAR SWITCHES
Cars 1993 Lincoln Mark VII
1993-1995 Ford Sable

SUVs
1992-1997 Mercury Mountaineer

Pickup trucks
1998-2002 Ford Ranger

Vans
1992-1993, 1997-2002 Ford Econoline
1994-2002 Ford Windstar