Faulty washing machine almost certainly to blame for blaze

The blaze took over three hours for firefighters to extinguish.
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

The blaze took over three hours for firefighters to extinguish.

The washing machine that sparked a house fire in Manawatu last year was almost certainly a recalled model.

Fire investigators say the machine caused the fire that destroyed the family home, and Samsung now says it was probably the faulty 2013 model. 

Samsung New Zealand said it had been in contact with the affected customer to see what help it could offer. 

Firefighters at the rural property near Ashhurst.
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Firefighters at the rural property near Ashhurst.

"We understand that the customer did own one of the washing machine models recalled in 2013. However, as the customer's insurance company are currently handling the investigation into the cause of the fire, we do not have any further information to confirm or share at this stage."

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* Thousands of burning washing machines at large as another goes up in flames

The Valley Rd blaze, near Ashhurst, started about 1.30pm on August 9.

Manawatu area commander Mitchell Brown said an electrical engineer was set to determine  precisely what the fault in the machine was. 

The recall system itself is under scrutiny as only about one in five products recalled are actually sent back to the manufacturer.

Samsung got about 88 per cent of the faulty machines back, however.

Massey University Professor Harald van Heerde​ said most brands tried to disassociate themselves from product recalls. 

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"They [might] place an advert in the newspaper, for example, but they remove all their regular branding." 

Edwards said set protocols were lacking.

"That's why it would be great to have compulsory product recalls."

Consumer New Zealand consumer adviser Maggie Edwards said the recall system changed a few years ago.

This created two types of product recalls, one mandatory and one voluntary.

The rules needed to be tighter, she said. 

Compulsory product recalls could be ordered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, but Edwards said they were yet to order a compulsory recall. 

Edwards described the new system as "an improvement on the old system, but it's still not perfect". 

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman said consumers who are aware of product recalls should act on them. 

"Not acting on a recall has potential implications for the safety of the individual, and especially in the case of house fires, their family, friends and others around them.

"A consumer who ignores a recall on a product, which later malfunctions and causes loss to the consumer, may be restricted in how much they can seek back from a supplier or manufacturer in terms of reasonably foreseeable consequential loss."

 

 - Stuff

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