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US probes reports of fires in Cruze, Jeep Wrangler

No injuries, but some vehicles were destroyed

DETROIT - The government said Sunday that it is investigating reports of engine fires in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze small car and the 2010 Jeep Wrangler SUV.

The fires have not caused any injuries but have destroyed at least six vehicles.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received two reports of fires in the Cruze. In both cases, owners reported the fires began while the cars were moving, and in both cases the cars were destroyed.

According to complaints filed on the agency’s website, a driver with a 2011 Cruze Eco was 30 miles into a 43-mile trip last month when smoke came from under the hood. As soon as the driver stopped, flames began shooting from the car.

“The car was totally engulfed within five minutes of stopping, and it was only after the first sign of fire was visible that the warning light on the dashboard illuminated,’’ the driver told the agency.

General Motors Co. sold approximately 177,000 Chevrolet Cruzes from the 2011 model year.

The safety agency also has received eight reports of fires in 2010 model year Wranglers. Most began when the vehicles were moving, and four owners reported their vehicles were destroyed.

Under examination by federal regulators are the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, a small car, and the 2010 Jeep Wrangler, a sport utility vehicle.

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The owner of a 2010 Wrangler told NHTSA that the vehicle was parked and running when it suddenly turned off. The owner was attempting to restart the vehicle when someone outside the vehicle began yelling that it was on fire.

Chrysler Group sold 131,000 Wranglers from the 2010 model year.

A spokesman said vehicle fires can happen for various reasons, including some that have nothing to do with the vehicle itself. Poor maintenance, improper vehicle use, or the installation of aftermarket equipment can all cause fires, he said.

“The 2010 Jeep Wrangler meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards and has an excellent safety record,’’ Chrysler said in a statement.

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