Action 9

‘I was terrified’: Car goes up in flames in driveway even after recall repair was done

DELAND, Fla. — A Ford Escape suddenly burst into flames in a DeLand driveway.  That was in mid-November.  The SUV had been serviced for a recall that Ford noted had the risk of fire just a couple of months before the fire sparked.

The massive flames were captured by a doorbell camera across the street.   The video shows the raging fire and what appeared to be a small explosion that made a responding police officer jump.

The 2020 Ford Escape belonged to Kedena Douglas.  She showed Action 9 Consumer Investigator Jeff Deal her charred driveway and the front of her garage.  The car was burned up and the address on the front of her home was melted off by the fire.

Douglas said, “I was so scared. Like I told my husband, I’m scared. And you know, I was terrified.”

She had just planned on a quick stop at home before picking her daughters up from school.  When she got out of the SUV she saw smoke from the engine compartment, then flames.

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DeLand fire crews responded quickly and knocked the fire down. The report from the DeLand Fire Department lists the cause of ignition as “failure of equipment or heat source.”

Just a few months earlier, Kedena Douglas learned her Escape was under a recall because of a “chance the fuel injector can crack, which may lead to an underhood fire.”  It’s a recall potentially impacting more than half a million Ford vehicles.  The vehicles include some 2021-2023 Bronco Sport models and 2020-2023 Escape models.

“I’ve got my kids, to make sure that my car is safe for my kids. So, as soon as I saw the recall I called Ford and I take it to the service,” Douglas told Action 9

She had the repair done at a local Ford dealership and thought she was safe.

“It’s somewhat unacceptable, you know, they did everything right, they went and got the recall repair when they were supposed to. And supposedly their vehicle is fixed,” said Michael Brooks with the Center for Auto Safety.

Brooks pointed out, while we don’t know for sure what caused the fire, it makes him wonder if the recall repair she had done was sufficient to deal with the problem.

He said, “For all we know, it is a bad recall repair or it could be another defect.”

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Ford because of this issue that claims the recall repair does not actually fix the underlying issue causing the fuel injectors to crack, but simply drains the fuel out of the car once a crack occurs.  Ford has filed a motion to dismiss the case that argues there are no factual allegations to support the “speculation” the recall isn’t effective.

Kedena Douglas said, when she called Ford, she was shuffled between different people and got no answers.

Meanwhile, she’s borrowing money and relying on help from others (Fundraiser by Kedeen Davis : We need the money to rent a car and fix house (gofundme.com)) to pay out of pocket for a rental car and a deductible for the damage on her home.

And since the car is worth less than she owes, all of the insurance money is going to the finance company, which is Ford Credit.

Douglas said, “I think they should give me back a car because I was paying on that car for two years. That’s a total loss right there for me.”

Action 9 reached out to Ford to get answers.  A company spokesperson sent this statement:

We are contacting the customer to assist her with navigating the claims process and to determine whether the vehicle is available for inspection. Ford doesn’t have information as to the cause of the fire and has not yet had an opportunity to inspect this vehicle to determine whether the vehicle has a cracked fuel injector.  Ford believes that the 22s73 repair is effective and eliminates the risk of fire due to a cracked fuel injector.

Douglas calls it disappointing, but is just glad she stopped at home before picking her daughters up from school.

“It would be just so terrifying to go to my daughters’ school with that situation.”

She is also thankful the fire department responded quickly and flames didn’t spread from the garage into the rest of her home. She’s hoping Ford will cover the damage to her home as well.

To check if your vehicle has any unrepaired recalls, you can check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration here: Check for Recalls: Vehicle, Car Seat, Tire, Equipment | NHTSA

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.