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Fire engulfs car at Target

For more than 10 years and 200,000 miles, Carl Warren's 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo served him well, but it all went up in flames Sunday afternoon in the Target parking lot.

Warren and his wife, who live in River Falls, were in Hudson running errands. Warren had parked the car in the Target lot and crossed the lot to do some shopping at Econofoods. When he had finished, he started the Jeep and began to move toward Target's front entrance to pick up his wife.

"I noticed right after starting it that the whole vehicle began shaking. Then smoke started to come inside the compartment. I stopped and got out and saw more smoke or steam coming from under the hood. When I popped the hood, flames engulfed the whole engine," said Warren.

Warren isn't sure who called 911, but the Hudson Fire Department was there in about seven or eight minutes. Before they arrived, a Target employee came out with a fire extinguisher to help, but the vehicle was consumed by flames.

Warren did some checking on the Internet following the fire and found a Web site that indicated Jeep was about to issue a recall for 100,000 2005 Jeep Cherokees because of potential fire risks.

According to the Web site information, in at least four incidents involving 2005 Cherokees, coolant somehow leaked into the transmission fluid, which boiled over and sprayed into the engine compartment, causing a fire.

Warren said the description of circumstances of the fires mentioned on the Web site were very similar to what he experienced in his vehicle. He said he is writing Jeep to advise of the problem he had and see if they are considering a recall of Jeep Cherokees from other years, including 1995.

The Warrens' dog was with them on the trip and remained in the car while the couple did their errands. "We were just lucky that it happened while I was driving the car. The dog got out with me and we had moved away from other parked vehicles, so this could have been much worse.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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