The Lincoln Town Car that caught fire on Saturday killing five women inside was part of a recall in 2001 that was issued because of concerns that the load that could be put into the extended vehicle could go beyond the limit that the tires could endure. Some 10,000 2001 Lincoln Town Cars that could be stretch vehicles were part of that recall.
On Saturday, a deadly car fire broke out in one of the vehicles transporting nine women to a bachelorette party. The flames reportedly started in the rear of the limousine. A
ccording to the driver, one of the passengers began knocking on the partition separating him from the occupant compartment. He said that he heard her say ‘smoke,’ assumed that she wanted to light up a cigarette, and told her she couldn’t. 30 seconds later, she began knocking again and he said that is when he smelled smoke.
Four of the women were able to escape the burning vehicle, but the other five, including the bride, were trapped inside and died. The survivors sustained burn injuries and smoke inhalation.
Police say that it might take some time to determine what caused the car fire, but questions are being raised about whether the auto defect that spurred the recall played a part. According to published reports, one witness described the limousine’s rear side as riding very low right before the fire began. On CBS San Francisco’s website, Friedman Research fire inspector and car safety expert Keith Friedman is quoted as saying that if the car was too heavily packed, with passengers and possibly additional items, or if part of the suspension failed, this might have upped the load on the wheel bearings and axle. Because wheel bearings can overheat, this may be what caused the tires to catch fire.
While Lincoln limousines are usually modified by certified Qualified Vehicle Modifiers, there are shops that aren’t certified but are still hired to do the job because they are less costly. Some builders that aren’t QVMs might even stretch a vehicle beyond the weight limits that are certified.
If the limo’s load limits did play a part in the deadly auto fire, then the victims may have grounds for anauto products liability lawsuit against Ford. Wrongful death and civil lawsuits might also have to be filed against other parties, such as the limousine company owner, the driver, a negligent builder, or others.
A car fire can cause catastrophic injuries for those involved. Flames are rapidly fueled by gasoline, making it easy for a vehicle to explode quickly. Many auto fires could and should have been prevented.
Common causes of car fires:
• Fuel tank defects
• Ruptured fuel tanks
• Poor fuel tank placement
• Fuel line defects
• Fuel pump defects
• Electrical or mechanical failure
Unfortunately, car fires happen more often than we would like to think. According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2003 and 2007, fire departments in this country responded to about 287,000 car fires a year and these incidents resulted in about 480 fatalities and 1,525 injuries.