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Danger in the Kitchen?

Fire investigators from Montgomery County are scheduled to meet with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and representatives from an insurance company as they try to trace the cause of this week’s deadly fire in Kensington . As we reported Monday, the fire started down low in the kitchen somewhere near the refrigerator. Investigators say they have ruled out most other likely causes and, at the moment, are focusing on the refrigerator. On Monday, spokesman Pete Piringer said it was possible a motor or another component in the refrigerator could have sparked the fire. We won’t know if the refrigerator is the cause until the insurance company or CPSC conducts further tests.

It turns out that in June, 2005, CPSC issued a recall and repair of two models. Officials wrote in a  CPSC press release, “A faulty component in the condenser fan motor can short circuit”. The release goes on to say, “This could cause the condenser fan motor to overheat, posing a potential fire hazard to consumers”.

At the time LG, the manufacturer of both models had, “82 reports of incidents involving a condenser fan motor failure due to a failed capacitor arcing and smoking”. There were no injuries at the time of the recall and the only damage from the incidents was from smoke. Those refrigerators were sold under the LG and Kenmore Elite Trio names.

At this point there is no indication that the refrigerator at the home of Craig and Pat Reynolds was one of those models. Their son, Dave Reynolds, tells me the refrigerator installed just last week was a two door model. The units recalled in 2005 had three doors.

On 9News Now at 6 tonight, you can hear my conversation with Captain Sam Hsu, a veteran fire investigator, about this fire and appliance fires in general. While Captain Hsu personally can’t remember a fire in a refrigerator, a few years back he did investigate a number of dishwasher fires involving a model that had been recalled by CPSC. Captain Hsu says what he has seen more often are fires caused by the smaller kitchen appliances, like coffee pots and toasters..

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