DETROIT - The government said Sunday it is investigating reports of engine fires in the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze small car and Jeep Wrangler SUV.
The fires haven't caused any injuries but have destroyed at least six vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the 2011 model year Cruze and the 2010 model year Wrangler.
The NHTSA has received two reports of fires in the 2011 Cruze. In both cases, owners reported that the fires began while the cars were moving, and in both cases the cars were destroyed.
According to complaints filed on NHTSA's website, a driver with a 2011 Cruze Eco was 30 miles into a 43-mile trip last month when smoke started coming out from under the hood. As soon as the driver stopped, flames began shooting out from the car.
"The car was totally engulfed within five minutes of stopping, and it was only after the first sign of fire was visible that the warning light on the dashboard illuminated," the driver told NHTSA. NHTSA doesn't post drivers' identifications on its site.
United Autoworkers Local 1112 President Jim Graham said he did not have enough information about what may have happened to comment.
"You will have to talk to someone at the plant or at GM," Graham said Sunday.
Dave Green, the president of UAW Local 1714, could not be reached for comment.
The Cruze is the latest generation of small cars made at the Lordstown General Motors facility.
General Motors Co. spokesman Alan Adler says the company knows of no deaths or injuries related to the issue. GM is cooperating with the investigation. The company sold approximately 177,000 Cruzes from the 2011 model year.
Late last year, the 2011 Cruze was named by NADAguides.com as its "Car of the Year."
The car beat 10 other "strong contenders," based on performance, impressive styling and design, fuel ratings, safety features and cost of ownership, "all at a very competitive price point," according to the website.
NHTSA also has received eight reports of fires in 2010 model year Wranglers. Most began when the vehicles were moving, and four owners reported that their vehicles were destroyed.
The owner of a 2010 Wrangler told NHTSA that the vehicle was parked and running when it suddenly turned off. The owner was attempting to restart the vehicle when someone outside the vehicle began yelling that it was on fire.
"Once out of the Jeep I looked under it and saw and unknown liquid burning down to the ground from the engine area. I attempted to extinguish the fire with water but I was unsuccessful. Within minutes it was a total loss," the owner said, according to NHTSA's documents.
Chrysler Group spokesman Nick Cappa says the company is aware of the incidents but knows of no accidents or injuries related to the issue. Chrysler is cooperating with the investigation. The company sold 131,000 Wranglers from the 2010 model year.
NHTSA investigations can lead to vehicle recalls.