A Smart car battery charger reportedly started a house fire on Monday night, according to officials. The blaze caused approximately $200,000 in damage to the owner’s house and garage, which is worth $500,000. The fire originated in the garage before traveling to the Estero, Florida home’s attic. Luckily, firefighters were able to stop the inferno before it spread to the rest of the three-bedroom home. No injuries were reported.
Florida fire officials concluded on Tuesday that the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive's battery charger caused the blaze. Spokeswoman Susan Lindenmuth stated that the vehicle was burnt so badly beyond recognition that officials could not identify its make or model. According to Lindenmuth, it was the first time her department had ever responded to a Smart car fire in her eight years working for Estero Fire Protection & Rescue.
Aside from the fire official’s investigation, the homeowner’s insurance company is also currently examining the fire. In particular, the insurance company is conducting tests to determine whether the fire was caused by the car itself or the battery charger.
Homeowner Lisa Schardein told a Southwest Florida NBC affiliate that her husband Richard had installed a new charger just one day prior to the incident. “It was the only thing that was different. It was such a small device. I remember seeing the box from RedEx,” said Schardein.
With this fact in mind, Lindenmuth is urging homeowners to read their owner’s manuals prior to charging their vehicles. There are currently two ways to charge an electric vehicle at home. EV owners can either utilize the standard 120-volt home outlet or purchase a 240-volt home charging dock.
Smart is not alone in its current fire woes. Fellow electric automaker Fisker was recently involved in a pair of vehicle fires. In May, a faulty Fisker Karma battery was blamed for causing a Texas house fire, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration later ruled out this early determination.
In August, a Fisker Karma caused a grocery store parking lot fire in Woodside, California. Fisker later found that the luxury hybrid’s cooling fan was the culprit. Specifically, the cooling fan had suffered an internal fault, which caused it to fail and overheat. Fisker’s investigation resulted in the recall of 2,400 Karma plug-in hybrids one week after the fire.
As was true with the Fisker Karma fire incidents, the jury will ultimately be out until Smart and the NHTSA investigates the fire. Stay tuned for more information as it continues to unfold.
Originally launched in America in 2008, Smart is an automotive branch of Daimler AG that specializes in microcars. There are currently four Smart ForTwo models available: the Pure Coupe, Passion Coupe, Passion Cabriolet and Electric Drive.