CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As the saying goes, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stops the U.S. Mail.
And now we can add fire.
Enter Dan Mixdorf of Panama City, Florida, who told NBC Charlotte, “As soon as I pulled over I noticed smoke coming out from the engine compartment.”
Mixdorf was driving his mail route in Florida in late November. His vehicle of choice was a 2009 Jeep Wrangler -- which he bought new and only had $5,000 left to pay on his loan.
Mixdorf recalled the events that day.
“By the time I lifted up the hood, the whole engine was on fire.” He tried to put out a fire that he said just wouldn’t go out. “I ran around the Jeep, got all the mail out and by the time I did get the mail out and got 10 feet away, the whole Jeep went up in flames.”
Mixdorf’s Jeep had just been serviced and was given a clean bill of health. He said Chrysler told him the cause of the fire was unknown because the Jeep was damaged so badly.
The NBC Charlotte I-team has interviewed six different Jeep Wrangler owners who have had sudden and unexpected fires in the last 12 months. The model years vary between 2007 and 2012, but their stories are similar.
In Indian Trail, N.C., Rob Pyrock said “I came across the railroad tracks and I lost all power to the vehicle."
Other owners in Ann Arbor, Michigan and in Ashville, N.C. basically said the same thing.
All were sudden fires in the engines, sudden fires that were tough to put out.
Pyrick said, “The second truck pulled up and started with foam and after 45 minutes it finally went out.”
Same with Paul Bova. His Jeep burned in Vermont.
“And the fire department had a tough time putting it out because gas was leaking from the bottom,” he said.
So if all of these fires are so similar, why hasn’t Chrysler acknowledged a problem that the I-Team, many owners and even safety experts see?
Chrysler told NBC Charlotte the causes of these fires were either undetermined or debris stuck up under the jeep -- and debris was the reason cited for the recall of 68,000 2010 Wranglers.
Chrysler also points out that Mixdorf’s Jeep had 88,000 miles when it burned. When the I-Team asked why that mattered, Chrysler would only say, “It’s relevant.”
Chrysler continues to say that vehicle fires can happen for many reasons and that Jeep Wranglers have excellent safety records.