Wagoner County Man Says Defective Lawnmower Caused Fire

Monday, September 6th 2010, 10:06 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

WAGONER COUNTY, OKLAHOMA -- A fire destroyed almost everything a Wagoner County man had bought with his retirement savings. He believes a manufacturer's defect in his riding lawn mower caused the fire.

Just about everything of value Bob Smith owned was destroyed by the fire, including two pickups, four-wheelers and his tools. It's a $50,000 loss and none of it is insured.

"It's very sad, it's depressing. It's horrible," said Bob's daughter Sandi Smith.

Smith had paid cash for his possessions and only had liability insurance on the trucks. But he's trying to recoup some of the loss from the manufacturer of his riding lawn mower, a Poulan Pro.

"I heard an explosion and the lawn mower was just a ball of fire," said Bob Smith.

Smith said both Poulan and Briggs and Stratton sent representatives to look at the damage. But since then, he said it's been hard getting in touch with anyone, let alone getting a commitment from them to help.

"I hope he gets just a little reimbursement for some of his losses. Anything is better than nothing," said Bob's daughter.

It's not clear if a manufacturer defect caused the fire, or even if the company should be held responsible. But in 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled thousands of riding lawn mowers, including the brand owned by Smith, because fuel lines could separate from the fuel tank outlet, which is a fire hazard.

For now, Smith is leaving the charred debris where it sits, and his family vows to pursue the matter further.

"I will go as far as I can go, I will exhaust every option until I can't get him any more help," said Sandi Smith.

The fire also damaged the back of Smith's home. That damage has been repaired, thanks to a generous donation of materials by The Mazie Lumber Company.