Women claim rental car company won't pay for valuables lost when van caught fire

ATLANTA — Four friends are describing the frightening moments their rental van caught fire while they were driving it.

It burned so badly they had to get another rental.

Now they are not happy the rental company wants them to pay for the burned van and the second rental they needed to get home.

It happened Feb. 26, 2017, as they returned to Atlanta after a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.


As they drove on Highway 65 in Alabama, they said that the radio volume kept going down and the electronic doors kept opening and closing.

They smelled smoke and then noticed flames in the console.

They quickly pulled over and Predita Smith began recording.

"We were driving. The car started smoking," Smith said frantically in the video. "Oh, my God. Oh, my God," she said as the van burned up in the distance.

"We all could have been gone," Smith told Channel 2's Tom Jones.

"It was scary. Very scary," Tawana Worrell said.

"A total nightmare," said Mary Petty, who rented the Kia van from an Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Marietta.

The women said that when the doors jammed, two women in the back had to climb over the seats to get out.

"Traumatizing," Naimah Brown said. "Like something out of a movie."

The four said they had to get a hotel and rent another car to get back to Atlanta and they thought Enterprise would cover the costs of the two rentals, the hotel and the valuables they lost in the fire.

The women say Enterprise hasn't reimbursed them for the rentals or any of their losses.

"Didn't offer us, can we pay for your hotel? Can we do this? It was nothing," Smith told Jones.

An Enterprise spokesperson told Channel 2 that the company is awaiting a final report from Kia before determining its next course of action.

The women said Kia told them the van was too damaged to determine what caused the fire and think Enterprise should be more sensitive to the nightmare they went through.

"Call us and say I'm sorry. We didn't even get that. No apology or nothing," Brown said.

The Enterprise spokesperson said the company really wants to get to the bottom of what happened.

The women said they purchased rental insurance on the car and were told the insurance wouldn’t cover their valuables lost in the fire, only the burned car.

The woman said they are still traumatized and think Enterprise should at least help defray some of their expenses after what they went through.