Recalled tumble dryer blamed for tower block blaze

Tumble Dryer fire

Tumble Dryer fire

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A faulty tumble dryer subject to a safety notice was the cause of a massive tower block blaze, a "painstaking" six week Fire Brigade investigation has concluded.

Fire investigators initially said they believed that an Indesit tumble dryer sparked the inferno which gutted part of the 18 storey high rise block in August and took 120 firefighters to bring under control.

Washing machines

Washing machines

The Brigade's extensive investigation into the blaze in Shepherd's Bush, west London, has now concluded that "all the physical evidence in the flat clearly indicated that the fire had started in the tumble dryer".

The probe also found "the physical evidence corroborated witness accounts that the fire had started in the dryer," as well as other evidence that "showed an engineer had been due to visit the property to carry out modifications".

Now, following the completion of the final investigation report, fire chiefs have renewed their call for the dryer's parent company, Whirlpool, to change its advice to customers.

The Fire Brigade said Whirlpool still maintains that people may continue to use the affected dryers while they are waiting for them to be modified, so long as they are not left unattended.

But the Brigade disagrees and is urging anyone with one of the models in question to immediately unplug the machine and stop using it.

Dave Brown, London Fire Brigade's Director of Operations, said: "This fire has highlighted just how dangerous faulty white goods can be.

"Disappointingly though, Whirlpool have still not changed their advice to consumers.

"Following the conclusion of our investigation we are now appealing once again for them to change their advice and bring it into line with our own.

"Thankfully there were no serious injuries in the Shepherd's Bush fire, but we may not be so lucky if it happens again."

Mr Brown said that to confirm the tumble dryer was the Indesit model subject to a safety notice fire investigators compared the remains of the heavily fire damaged appliance with one that was undamaged. They succeeded in matching nearly 20 individual features.

He said further evidence was found within the debris of the fault which could be expected to be found on the affected dryers.

The Brigade's Total Recalls Campaign aims to make sure the public are better protected from potentially lethal faulty white goods by calling on the Government to improve the way that product recalls work and the way that white goods are manufactured in the first place.

The safety notice issued by Whirlpool identified a potential concern with two types of tumble dryer manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015. The affected brands are Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda, Proline and Swan.

Responding a spokesman for parent company Whirlpool said: "Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident in Shepherd's Bush, London, in August 2016.

"While we understand that London Fire Brigade has concluded its investigation into the incident, Whirlpool's independent forensic investigations are still ongoing and in the circumstances, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

"The safety of consumers is our number one priority and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the tumble dryer modification programme is carried out in a safe and timely manner.

"We continue to cooperate fully with the relevant regulatory authority as progress of the campaign is regularly monitored and reviewed.

"The success of the programme depends on as many customers as possible registering with us for a modification.

"Therefore, we urge everyone who owns an Indesit, Hotpoint or Creda dryer manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 to check if their dryer is affected and then register for a free modification if it is.

"They can do this using the model checker on two bespoke websites we have created, https://safety.hotpoint.eu/ and https://safety.indesit.eu/ or our dedicated freephone helpline on 0800 151 0905 for the UK or 1800 804320 for Ireland."

Alex Neill, managing director of home and legal services, at consumer Which? said: “Almost a year on, there are still millions of potentially dangerous tumble dryers in people’s homes. London Fire Brigade’s investigation into the Shepherd’s Bush fire highlights the urgent need for the Government to review the Whirlpool case and set out how it is going to improve safety for affected customers.”