A Southern California Ford dealership is facing heavy criticism for "smoking hot" promotions on new vehicles launched during what have become the deadliest wildfires in the state's modern history.
The controversy began when Simi Valley Ford sent a promotional email to subscribers on Saturday.
"Well, we didn't catch fire, but these deals are smoking hot, take a look!," the ad said.
The digital ad was illustrated with red and orange leaves and featured a variety of vehicles that were part of the promotion, including 2018 models of the Ford Escape, EcoSport, Edge and Fusion. The email also featured promotions for used cars and light trucks.
"Our dealers work hard to communicate openly in their communities, but from time to time bad decisions happen," a Ford spokesman said Wednesday. "We'll continue to work with our dealers to make sure they are all representing the Blue Oval in the best possible way. We were deeply disappointed in the lapse of judgment. The dealership owners are very sorry."
To support those affected by the fires, the automaker launched a customer incentive program and set aside $100,000 to aid wildfire relief and recovery efforts in California, the spokesman said.
Simi Valley Ford is owned by Larry Hibbler. The dealership apologized on Wednesday in a Facebook post: "Recently, we expressed ourselves in a way that does not reflect our values. We are sorry. Simi Valley is our home and, like all of us who live here, we will continue to assist during these difficult times."
The dealership came under considerable attack on Facebook, with users posting comments such as "Absolutely disgusting!" and "Shame on you!"
According to CNN, 50 deaths have been linked to Northern California's Camp Fire, which erupted last week. Southern California's Woolsey Fire has killed two people, CNN reported.
The Simi Valley dealership is about 30 miles north of the Woolsey Fire burn zone, according to a California fire map. Approximately 480 structures have been destroyed and 86 damaged by that fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported Wednesday. The wildfire is about 47 percent contained, the report said.
Simi Valley Ford did not respond to a request for comment.