By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota couple is calling on car seat manufacturers to put a quick release feature on children’s car seats after their twin daughters narrowly escaped being trapped in a car fire.

Amy Basset-Brevik and her husband Kent were driving last month in Wadena with their twin 13-month-old girls. While passing another car, something punctured their Ford Escape’s fuel tank.

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“Something hit the undercarriage of our vehicle, and when I looked back I just saw flames,” Brevik said.

Within seconds, their car was on fire. The snug car-seat straps that Brevik used to protect her children almost became deadly restraints

“I just jumped out to get to the girls in the back and everything was engulfed in flames,” she said.

Amy could only partially unbuckle one of the girls when suddenly she realized her boots and jeans were on fire.

“There was snow all around me and I dove in the ditch,” she said.

As the flames spread through the car, Kent climbed into the back seat and unbuckled both girls.

“There was just no other option. We were going to get out,” he said.

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Kent was able to free the girls and pass them to a bystander before he jumped out of the flaming car. Seconds later it exploded.

“Through the flames I saw the man holding the girls, and it was amazing to see them out of the burning car,” she said.

Afterword, Amy searched the web and found a patented quick-release system invented by Dr. Michael Blackmon, a Georgia dentist. It works by pulling a handle at the top of the seat

But Blackmon’s invention has not been purchased by car-seat makers. Amy has written manufacturers to demand that quick releases be installed.

“It was horrifying to just be outside and to watch my husband with those two girls in that burning car,” she said. “It was awful and there needs to be a change.”

Amazingly, none of the Breviks were hurt.

Dr. Blackmon says car-seat manufacturers have told him they are not required to put the release system on. And he has not been able to raise enough money to actually manufacture the device, so it’s not currently on the market.

WCCO contacted several car seat manufacturers and have not heard back.

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Dr. Blackmon estimates that if the quick release were installed, it would add $3 -$5 to the cost of the car seat.

Esme Murphy