KATY, Texas (FOX 26) - A Houston area man says he’s fortunate to be alive after his car burst into flames while he was driving. Ken Osborne has now learned there are reports of this happening to other Smart Fortwo drivers as well.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into 2008 and 2009 models after receiving claims of Smart Fortwo cars becoming engulfed in flames with drivers behind the wheel. Osborne wants to know why he wasn’t informed. Osborne says he barely made it out of his burning Smart car alive. He was driving on I-10 near Eldridge.
“All of a sudden somebody pulls up next to me and is frantic. He’s (doing) this (flailing his arms), get over. I thought it was road rage,” Osborne explains.
The Simonton, Texas, photographer says he had just left a Katy area restaurant and after hopping on the highway in his 2008 bright yellow Smart Fortwo car. Another driver was so persistent, he forced Osborne to the shoulder.
”And when he did, the car stopped and just started filling full of smoke and he come running out yelling 'get out of your car, you’re on fire'. He grabbed the door. I grabbed the door. Boosh! The car went. It was engulfed.”
Osborne says the good Samaritan told him he was driving down the Katy Freeway with flames shooting from the back of his car. Less than five seconds after getting out, Osborne says the whole car was full of flames. He says the man who forced him from the freeway saved his life.
“I would have burned up. There’s no way I would have gotten out of there. It was so fast what happened. It didn’t catch a fire. It burst into fire.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating 2008 and 2009 Smart Fortwo car fires since December 16, 2016, after receiving eight complaints of fires.
Osborne says he’s now concerned for anyone who drives this type of car, especially ladies because most women would not pull over if a stranger tells them to. He says once the fire is inside the cabin, it spreads so fast someone still driving may not have time to stop.
”I’ve never gotten a recall on this car, but yet they know about it. What is it going to take, someone burning to death in one?” Osborne says.
The NHTSA investigation is ongoing. Mercedes Benz USA which owns Smart car says in part "The safety of our customers is primary and we are cooperating with NHTSA".
Osborne and his wife ordered the car two years before it was first available. It had almost 100K miles on it and Osborne insists the car was impeccably maintained.