Woman's Hyundai SUV catches fire, raises questions

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An Athens woman is trying to figure out what went wrong when her brand new SUV unexplainably caught fire. Of bigger concern is the model and make of the SUV, a 2019 Hyundai Tucson.

While it’s not among the older Tucsons currently under recall, the circumstances have her and her family very concerned.

On cellphone video, the quick moving blaze can be seen destroying Kaitlyn Schaefer’s 2019 Hyundai Tucson four days after she and her dad bought the vehicle.

“The car had three hundred miles on it. I have only driven it a long distance twice,” said Schaefer.

She told FOX 5 News on Tuesday afternoon she and her friend Sydney Derrick drove from Athens to Buckhead in Atlanta to pick up a friend to meet her parents at the Braves game.

About a quarter of a mile after leaving her friend’s home, they were sidelined when the electronics, the blind spot detection, parking brake lights, and others, started behaving erratically just before a series of pops and explosions.

“The car kind of jolted as If I had slammed in the brakes which I didn’t, I wasn’t going very fast anyway, and right at that same time we heard like a pop,” said Schaefer.

She told FOX 5 News she called her parents who called the dealer who advised her to push the in-vehicle remote link to get help.

“She said hello and there was the other, the second explosion that we heard and I just ran, I just bolted away from the car,” said Schaefer.

She said she and her friends backed away from the burning vehicle then heard two more explosions before the Tucson was consumed by fire.

FOX 5 News reached out to the Alpharetta Hyundai dealer who sold Schaefer and her dad the Tucson but did not hear back from the dealer.

FOX 5 News received this statement from Hyundai Corporate and Public Relations:

"Nothing is more important than the safety and security of Hyundai customers, and we are grateful no one was injured.  As soon as we became aware of the vehicle fire, Huyundai contacted the customer to take care of them and make arrangements to inspect the vehicle. We are taking this incident very seriously."  

Thousands of older model Tucson and other Hyundai and Kia models have already been recalled over unexplained fires.

Jason Levine, the Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, a watchdog consumer non-profit, said while there is no current recall on the 2019 Tucson, this latest unexplained fire should be scrutinized.

“What we would like to see is the manufacturers, Hyundai and KIA and the National Highway Safety Administration do is more actively and more quickly get a handle on why these vehicles are continually catching fire,” said Levine.

Kaitlyn Schaefer said she and her dad bought the new Tucson as a way for her to start her new life after her graduation from the University of Georgia in Health Services.

RELATED: Hyundai, Kia recalls over 500K vehicles as fire risk spreads