"Sensationalistic" is how BMW of North America is describing an ABC News report alleging a pattern of parked BMW vehicles spontaneously bursting into flames.
The report, which aired last week, said ABC's investigation discovered that more than 40 BMWs have caught fire in the last five years despite being turned off and parked. The vehicles were not subject to recalls for fire-related issues, and now BMW owners and fire departments across the country are asking BMW for an explanation. The vehicle fires in some cases burned down garages or even houses, ABC reported. They started within minutes of a car being parked or even several days after it had been turned off.
The network said it has turned over its findings to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While NHTSA hadn't found evidence of a safety defect, it encouraged drivers to report any strange incidents and potential safety issues to the agency, ABC said.
In a media statement, BMW said it has investigated and, in some cases, inspected the vehicles cited in the ABC report. In inspected vehicles where a root cause was determined for the fires, the company has not seen any pattern "related to quality or component failure."
The vehicles range 1 to 15 years old and have mileage up to 232,250 miles, the company said. Vehicle fires can be caused by a variety of external reasons, including improper repair, unauthorized aftermarket modifications, flooding damage, rodent damage, improper preventative maintenance and arson, BMW said.
"With approximately 4.9 million BMW vehicles on U.S. roads, fire incidents involving BMWs are extremely rare," the company said. "BMW takes every incident very seriously and has a team dedicated to working with BMW owners, insurance companies and authorities to investigate vehicle fire incidents brought to our attention."