'These are cars fully engulfed in flames.' Safety advocates demand recall

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EDISON -

Auto safety advocates are calling on the U.S. government to issue a recall on more than 3 million vehicles that they say are prone to catching fire.

“There have been nearly 250 reports of cars simply bursting into open flames,” says Jason Levine with the Center for Auto Safety.

Levine says that the government's car complaint database shows hundreds of spontaneous fires and near-fires involving 2011-2014 KIA Optimas, 2012-2014 KIA Sorrentos, 2011-2013 KIA Sportages and 2011-2012 Hyundai Sonatas.

“This is not a little smoke or smelling some burning wires. These are cars fully engulfed in flames,” Levine says.

A Senate committee was set to hold hearings this week, but they were canceled after KIA and Hyundai declined to participate.

In a written statement, KIA said: "We have respectfully requested the committee consider a more comprehensive review of non-collision fires among all automakers."

Hyundai agreed, saying "recent research…demonstrates that these incidences are not limited to Hyundai vehicles.”

“The fact that some of your competitors also have vehicles that may be catching on fire does not excuse you, KIA or Hyundai, from responsibility for trying to make sure your cars aren't catching on fire,” Levine says.

Center for Auto Safety is asking the government to recall more than 3 million vehicles. The group recommends that anyone who owns one of these cars to keep a fire extinguisher inside. They say that if the driver smells something burning to pull over right away.

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