(NBC News) There is a growing concern about the fire risk for hundreds of thousands of drivers on America’s roads.
The Department of Transportation says it has reports of hundreds of fires involving various Kia models. Some of those harrowing incidents were caught on camera.
Even the Department of Transportation’s own inspector general said the agency is failing to ensure critical safety recalls are even completed.
Linda Creech was driving on the LBJ freeway in Dallas last October when a fellow driver began desperately signaling for her to pull over.
“Everything possible, honking, motioning for us to get off of the road….”
Flames were shooting out from underneath her 2014 Kia Soul.
She and her son got out just in time.
“And the next thing the car just exploded. . . Like a Mission Impossible movie without Tom Cruise.”
The same thing happened to Tyla Kennedy’s 2012 Kia Sorento in Orlando.
As of today, more than a million Kia and parent-company Hyundai vehicles are under recall for engine failure, involving 2011-2014 models.
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has not ordered a recall for a fire danger, even though it has at least 402 reports of fires.
In a report today, its own inspector general said NHTSA is failing to monitor recalls, saying it “…does not ensure that remedies are reported completely and in a timely manner” and “…does not verify recall completion rates, although it has the authority to do so.”
Consumer advocates say the Kia fire danger deserves a recall.
“You know sadly I would say make sure you bring a fire extinguisher in your car,” said Jason Levine with the Center for Auto Safety. if you smell something burning, it’s probably your car, it’s not outside the car.”
“Customers complain that Kia has been slow to accept responsibility for fires.”
Kia did not respond to NBC’s requests for comment, but safety experts say if you smell smoke while driving a Kia, assume your car is on fire and get off the road.