Federal government investigating Kitchenaid dishwasher fires

Dishwasher owners report a rash of fires

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Federal safety regulators confirmed to Channel 2 Action News consumer investigator Jim Strickland that they are investigating a string of fires blamed on a popular brand of dishwasher.
Two Cobb County women are seeking change that after they averted disaster in their kitchens.
"Our kitchen was filling with smoke at that point, and we turned around and saw flames shooting about a foot above our counter tops," recalled Laurie Benesh.
Benesh showed Strickland the scorch marks from where flames were shooting from her Kitchenaid dishwasher, manufactured by Whirlpool.
She said the company sent someone to get the model and serial numbers, but not to take the machine apart.
Strickland hired Brannon Harris, whose family business has been fixing the brand for generations.

"Looks like that's the point of where it started," Harris said, pointing to a spot on a charred control panel.
Harris said, even with a 7-year-old model, it should never catch fire.
Strickland learned that reports of fires with the Kitchenaid dishwasher are coming in from across the country.  He obtained several pictures from other cases. 
There is no recall on the dishwasher, but there is a class-action lawsuit that names Kitchenaid and Kenmore, along with Whirlpool's own name brand.
"What's your reaction to what you saw? " Strickland asked Benesh after she had seen the fire damage.
"It's frightening.  It makes me even more concerned than I was before," Benesh said.

Benesh put out an alert to her neighborhood and learned a friend a few blocks away had experienced a similar fire five days earlier.
"There was a big burn mark right here," Ann Walters said.        

Walters said her Kitchenaid dishwasher got so hot, it burned a hole right through the inside of the door.  Strickland saw a picture of the damage, which has since been repaired at Walters' expense.
"I start it when I'm here, and then I leave.  I'll never do that again," she said. "When I called Kitchenaid, I believed them when they said there's not an issue."
Lawyers who have filed a class-action lawsuit said there are at least 400 fire reports.
"If something breaks, board goes out, that's a common thing.  But actually catching on fire?  We have some sort of fault that needs to be taken a look at," Harris said.
Whirlpool told Strickland that fires are extremely unlikely.  Whirlpool's statement said they are investigating, and cooperating with federal regulators.