Ford recall issued for switch that can ignite

Published: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 12:39 a.m.
A couple whose Melrose home was destroyed by fire last month believe their pickup truck, the same year and model Ford Motor Co. announced Thursday it is recalling, is to blame for the blaze.
The nation's second largest automaker issued a recall for nearly 800,000 pickups and sport utility vehicles, saying the cruise control switch could short circuit and cause a fire under the hood. Affected by the recall are about 792,000 Ford F-150 pickups, Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators from the 2000 model year.
Also affected are 2001 F-Series Supercrew trucks that were made at the same time.
Helen Smith, 76, of Melrose said she and her husband were lucky to escape from their house, gutted by fire on Dec. 8.
"We are totally wiped out, completely," she said.
Smith said the fire spread after apparently starting in the garage where their 2000 Ford F-150 truck was parked, along with another vehicle.
Investigators, she said, could not find a cause for the fire in the garage. Smith said the recall "will give us something to go on."
Ford will notify owners of the recall in February, and dealers will deactivate the cruise control switch for free.
Once the company has an adequate supply of replacement switches, it will send another letter notifying owners that they can get their switches replaced.
''We recognize this may be an inconvenience, but we believe this preventive action is in the best interest of our customers' safety,'' the company said in a statement Thursday.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the defect in November after receiving 36 reports of fires.
All of the incidents occurred when the vehicle was parked and the ignition was turned off. No injuries were reported.
Ford said it worked closely with NHTSA throughout the investigation.
Lise Fisher can be reached at (352) 374-5092 or The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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