Thousands of Opel Zafira cars may have to be recalled following a series of fires, the latest of which happened in Cork this morning.

The incident happened as a man was about to board the ferry from Passage West to Cobh when a fire started in the dashbaord of his car.

He managed to escape, but the car was destroyed.

Opel in Ireland has been advising owners of Zafira cars sold between 2005 and 2014 to contact their local garage if they have any concerns about their cars, but has not issued any recall notice so far.

In a statement, Opel Ireland said they are taking the issue seriously and will take further action.

The statement added that investigations to date have found a number of incidents occurred due to previous repairs being performed improperly or using certain non-genuine parts.

The company said if motorists notice any unusual characteristics with the car's heating and ventilation system, including a squeaking noise from the dashboard, they should contact their local Opel dealer.

However, in the UK a spokesman for the company (called Vauxhall in Britain) said there will be a recall of cars "when we get a root cause".

Opel Zafira goes on fire at Passage West

The fire in Cork this morning brings to over 130 the number of incidents in which cars have caught fire.

The Zafira has been an extremely popular choice as a family car in Ireland, but Opel has not yet issued figures for the number of Zafira models sold in Ireland between 2005 and 2014.

The company says a recall is not planned at the moment because "the investigation is still ongoing".

The problem came to light after three people in Britain launched a Facebook campaign voicing their concerns.

The group now has 3,000 members. The problem has been traced to the car's manual air conditioning and heating system.

It has taken only a few minutes for the fire to take hold.

In the Cork incident this morning the driver, who works at a garage, is reported to have first noticed smoke coming from the dashboard before the car burst into flames.

Opel says the problem may have arisen because of the use of non-approved parts used in repairs or repairs being carried out incorrectly. 

Donal Byrne - Motoring Editor