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BMW Seat Heater Burns Woburn Boy, Causes Fire – CBS Boston

WOBURN (CBS) – The smell of smoke burned Lisa Montanaro’s mind. As she drove home to Woburn from Pennsylvania three weeks ago, after her six-year-old Nico slept in his booster seat, she started smelling something funny. “My eyes started burning,” she said.

After a few more minutes, she decided to pull over to the highway, check the car, and fill up the gas tank.

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“I don’t know, mom’s intuition,” Lisa explained. “I don’t know, just something happened.”


A faulty seat heater burned a boy in Woburn (Image Credit Lisa Montanaro)

She was right – when she sat in the backseat to check on Nico and pulled his pillow out from behind him, the car filled with smoke. “I started to worry,” she explained. “I had gasoline pumped into my car at the time. Shout my son get off the car, get him out, stop pumping gas.”

The pillow burned into the seat, and when Lisa tore it off, it revealed a hole in both the pillow and the back seat of the car. Nico suffered a small burn on his hand when she tore him out of the car. His sweater and blanket sections had melted together.


Lisa Montanaro hugs her son’s pillow burned by faulty BMW seat heater (WBZ-TV)

That’s when Lisa learned that before taking a nap, Nico had turned on the rear seat heater, and it was obvious that it was malfunctioning. “It was a great car up to that point,” she said. “I mean in a million years, we never thought something like that would happen.”

Automotive safety expert Sean Kane of Safety Research and Strategy says seat heater malfunctions are not uncommon, but not unheard of. “They’re not common, but they’ve certainly been known and have been subject to some recalls over the years,” he said. “Usually, they don’t cause serious injury or death, which is good news. The result of that is problems that often go unreported, especially if the dealer or manufacturer decides to fix someone’s car. “

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However, Kane says these glitches can be dangerous. “The reality is, you’re driving a car and you get smoke inside the car,” Kane said. “That can be really problematic and can lead to accidents.”

Lisa Montanaro feels that fear as her emotions settle. “If I don’t pull over and he wakes himself up, he’ll get up and no matter how he moves, he’ll move that pillow and chances are he’s set himself on fire and will be killed by her.” he said. “I don’t know how scared I would be. All I know could have ended in death. “


A faulty seat heater burned a boy in Woburn (Image Credit Lisa Montanaro)

Nico told his parents he would never take a nap in the car again, and Lisa and her husband Tony said they would never drive a 2013 BMW X5 again. They are using a loaner car while the dealer proceeds with the next steps.

“I think for any car that has a hot coil, that electrical part,” explains Tony. “If you’re out on a long car trip, you run the risk of the car catching fire.”

Montanaros said they wanted to share their story not to shame the car company, but to spread awareness.

“We had to take a lot of long car rides,” Tony said. “Do I have to worry about my baby getting burned? I don’t want to ever have to file that lawsuit.”

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WBZ has reached out to BMW for comment but did not receive a response.


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