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U.S. investigates Ford Escape SUV fires

Investigation opened after reports of fires in the engine compartments of parked SUVs.



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NEW YORK ( -- The National Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into reports of fires in some Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute small SUVs.

Ford Motor Co. owns a controlling interest in Mazda and the Escape and Tribute are different versions of the same vehicle. The vehicles involved in the investigation are from model years 2001 to 2003.

The Mercury Mariner is another version of the same small SUV, but it has not been named in the investigation. It was not introduced until the 2005 model year.

The government auto safety agency started an official investigation after receiving eight separate complaints of fires in the engine compartments of Ford Escape SUVs. Two other complaints alleged "fire-related phenomena," such as sparks, melted electrical connectors or smoke, in the same area of the vehicles.

The fires originated in or near the anti-lock braking system (ABS) control module.

No injuries or deaths were reported as a result of the fires. The fires occurred when the vehicles were parked.

The ABS control module is powered at all times, even when the vehicle is parked. A similar module was the subject of earlier recallsexternal link of large Ford trucks and SUVs but, the agency's report states, the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs use a different module.

"We are aware of the complaints and we are cooperating with the agency," said Kristen Kinley, a spokeswoman for Ford.

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