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U.S. safety agency probes Jeep Liberty fires

DETROIT (Reuters) - A U.S. safety agency is investigating complaints about drivers' doors catching fire on the 2012 Jeep Liberty.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation said it has opened a preliminary probe into an estimated 79,252 Liberty SUVs. ODI will evaluate the scope, frequency and consequence of the issue - often a prelude to a formal recall.

ODI said it had received two reports from consumers alleging the driver's door caught fire, causing the drivers to stop the vehicle and exit through the passenger door. One injury was reported.

Chrysler Group, a unit of Italy's Fiat SpA, phased out the Liberty last fall at the end of the 2012 model year. A replacement, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, is just beginning to reach U.S. dealers.

In a statement, Chrysler said, "Our engineers are investigating these two reports while also fully supporting" the federal investigation.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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