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Was A Fisker Karma The Cause Of A Recent House Fire?


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If authorities in Fort Bend County, Texas are correct, there’s more bad news in store for extended-range electric automaker Fisker.

Last week, a 2012 Fisker Karma owner in Fort Bend County parked his Karma in an attached garage, alongside a Mercedes SUV and an Acura NSX. Three minutes later, the Karma was engulfed in flames.

While details are still sparse, this much is known: the owner claims to have smelled burning rubber upon exiting the vehicle, and the car was not plugged in at the time of the incident.

According to Fort Bend County’s chief fire investigator, Robert Baker, the Karma was the origin of the fire, but the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Autoweek reports that the car was purchased in April, after the battery and software recall campaigns, and was a total loss in the fire. Damage to the garage and second floor of the house was extensive, but it isn’t clear if the other vehicles in the garage will also need to be written off.

Fisker was quick to deploy engineers to the scene, prompting Baker to remark, “I’ve worked homicides with less secrecy. There have to be about 15 engineers down here working on this one.”

Baker drew parallels to golf cart fires, of which he investigates some 50 incidents per year. That may be a stretch, given that the cause of the fire is still under investigation and that the Karma isn’t powered by lead-acid batteries.
 
Fisker released a statement on the incident, citing conflicting reports and uncertainty surrounding the fire. In the automaker’s own words:

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.

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Comments (6)
  1. New house, new car..did he win the lottery or get a brand new insurance to claim it!
     
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    Bad stuff?

  2. If the owner got out of his car and smelled smoke the cause of the fire could have already started sometime before he pulled in. Just like the Volt fire scare the presence of a plug-in vehicle is most likely a coincidence.
     
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    Bad stuff?

  3. Karma uses battery from A123, doesn't it? If so, A123 system is looking at a pretty dimmed future.
     
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  4. I think one should wait for the facts before jumping to the declaration of a cause.

    Having said that, I'm not a fan of the car; it' too heavy, expensive and we have given the company way too much tax-payer money for this failure.
     
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  5. I think it is interesting that the battery pack is still intact. If the car started the fire, but the battery pack didn't, what part of the car started the fire? Hot exhaust?
     
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  6. @John, the fact that the car wasn't plugged in at the time only makes the fire investigator's comments more inflammatory (no pun intended). What, exactly, is the parallel between a fire in a lead-acid battery powered golf cart and a fire in a lithium-ion powered Karma?

    If the owner did smell burning rubber, the cause could be a wide variety of things, most of which are related to the Karma's internal combustion engine. Can't wait for the details on this story to surface.
     
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    Bad stuff?

 

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