April 2 (UPI) -- A federal regulator is investigating fires reported in Hyundai and Kia vehicles that have been linked to over 100 injuries and one death.
The independent, non-profit organization, Center for Auto Safety, petitioned for the two investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency said in notices on its website. The investigations opened Friday.
Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said in a statement that it was the right decision to begin the probes, but added that he would've wanted them to start months ago.
"It is long past time for the full power of the federal government to be brought to bear to answer why so many thousands of Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been involved in non-crash fires," center executive director Jason Levine said. "While it may be six months post-due, we are gratified to see NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigations open formal investigations based on our petition."
The two investigations, one of Hyundai and the other of its affiliate, Kia, involve nearly 3 million vehicles. More than 100 people have been injured, according to NHTSA files obtained by NPR, and one death was reported.
The NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigations probes cover non-crash fires in Hyundai's 2011-2014 Santa Fe and Sonata models, Kia's 2011-2014 Optima and Sorento models, and Kia's 2010-2014 Soul vehicles.
Hyundai and Kia recalled more than 600,000 vehicles for various problems in February. Most recalled vehicles were models of the Kia Soul.
Last October, the Center for Auto Safety demanded Hyundai and Kia recall 2.9 million cars and SUVs, citing hundreds of consumer complaints saying the vehicles caught fire.