Questions raised about General Motors, government action in recall over thousands of car fires

DETROIT – Shortly after Elizabeth Berry parked her bright yellow 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS on the street in front of her family’s home in May 2014, flames engulfed the engine, destroying the car and scorching her mailbox.

“I was hysterical. That was like my third baby,” she says of the car.

Compounding the shock was the fact that five years earlier, Berry had answered a recall notice from General Motors for a repair that was supposed to prevent engine fires.

Two weeks ago, Berry learned that she is one of 1,345 car owners in towns across the U.S. whose cars caught fire even after getting the repair called for in the recall. GM acknowledged the fix didn’t work and issued a new recall involving 1.4 million older cars, some for a second time.

GM advised drivers to park the cars outside until the repairs are done, for fear of flames spreading to nearby structures.

The post-recall fires raise questions about whether GM should have acted sooner, whether the government should have taken notice and stepped in, and whether the ineffective fix should have been approved in the first place.

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