Almost any electrical short could cause a fire. You need to have an
experienced fire investigator look it over. Do you have insurance on the
vehicle? If so, the insurance company probably can help out with that. It
could even be the CC deactivation switch, but it is my opinion if this was
the source of the fire, the fire would not have started 3 hours after the
vehicle was parked. But it is only opinion, and never having even seen the
vehicle, it is impossible for me to have too provide valuable guidance. I
can say that there is almost no history of cruise control deactivation
switches causing fires in Windstars. But even if they are trouble free
99.999% of the time, there is still room for doubt. And one more thing, not
only is the Windstar CC Deactivation switch not powered when the ignition is
off, it is not even the same part number as the switch in Ford Trucks that
was identified as a bad switch.
Before the fire did you have any trouble with the cruise control? Did you
need to add any brake fluid? Ever notice any leaking fluid under the hood?
To cause a fire in the manner that Sharon is suggesting, the switch would
have to have been leaking for a significant period of time. Seems like you
should have seen some symptoms.
The tight layout of the Windstar engine compartment is going to make any
definitive determination difficult. There is lots of stuff in the area of
the master cylinder that might cause a fire if there is a short to provide
an ignition source. If I was a betting man, I'd guess there was a fault in
the primary power feed or ground from the battery that resulted in a high
resistance short that over a period of time that eventually started the
wiring burning. Now I suppose this short could have been caused by corrosion
related to brake fluid leakage from the CC deactivation switch but that is
not the most likely cause in my opinion. If you don't have a related symptom
to narrow it down to the cruise control deactivation switch, any claim that
this is the fault is just speculation. The fact that spraying water on the
fire caused it to spread indicates to me that there was a liquid fuel
involved. Of course, after the fire got going, any of the plastic reservoirs
under the hood could have melted releasing brake fluid, and power steering
fluid, both of which will burn. Melted fuel lines will release gasoline, so
that is another source of fuel.
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