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Higher death toll from accidents involving Firestone tires, NHTSA says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Tuesday a higher death toll from accidents involving Firestone tires.

It said based on preliminary evaluations of complaints involving Firestone tires through August 8, there had been 62 fatalities in accidents involving vehicles using tires now being recalled by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. It had previously reported 46 deaths.

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There were about 779 complaints overall, the agency said, but it said some of those may be duplicates of previous complaints.

The evaluation also showed at least 100 injuries from accidents blamed on the tires.

Last Wednesday, Firestone issued a voluntary recall for about 6.5 million 15-inch tires of the ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT models, most of which were manufactured at its Decatur, Illinois, plant. The move came after NHTSA began investigating reports of fatal accidents connected to the tire, in which the tread separated from the rest of the tire and caused a blowout.

The disclosure by the NHTSA came on the same day that Bridgestone/Firestone officials outlined reimbursement plans to customers who paid to replace tires included in the company's recall.

Costs will be covered for replacing tires purchased between January 1 and August 8 of this year from a company-owned Firestone Tire and Service Center, or authorized Bridgestone/Firestone retailers to replace tires recalled on August 9.

The policy also covers the cost of replacing recalled tires with competitors' tires between August 8 and August 16 at stores other than authorized service centers or retailers.

The details of the company's reimbursement plan are also on the company's Web site at www.firestone.com or on forms available at any Bridgestone/Firestone Tire and Service Center or authorized retailer.



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