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I-Team: Dishwasher Fires Catch Homeowners Off Guard

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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Flames shot out of this KitchenAid dishwasher.

Flames shot out of this KitchenAid dishwasher.

WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Of all the potential dangers in your home, few would put their dishwasher on the list.

But hundreds of people, many here in Massachusetts, say their dishwashers could have killed them.

Home alone for the weekend, Maryellen Guditz was startled by a strange sound coming from under her counter.

“It was a bursting sound, a loud sppppssshhh, I remember thinking to myself that didn’t sound good.”

And it wasn’t good, something was seriously wrong with her KitchenAid dishwasher.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

Maryellen says, “I found flames coming out, shooting out from the top of the dishwasher and the side of the dishwasher!”

Dave Waller of Malden was cleaning up after dinner when he too saw flames shooting from his dishwasher.

“It was more like a blow torch, a concentrated jet of flames!”

“I just thanked my lucky stars my house didn’t burn down.”

Both Dave and Maryellen found out the fire started in the circuit board inside the control panel. The charred evidence hangs from the appliance in Maryellen’s Acton home.

Shortsleeve asked her, “What were you thinking?”

“I was very scared… scared to death as a matter of fact!”

Ralph Harriman teaches appliance repair at the Bay State School of Technology. He is guessing that the interior control board somehow got wet.

Shortsleeve asked, “If moisture got in, how would that cause a fire?”

“That would become a short circuit. If the board is not protected then moisture and electricity could cause a spark.”

Dave and Maryellen are just two of hundreds of complaints posted online at www.kitchenaidfire.com.

It is a web site started by an angry homeowner.

One woman says her house still smells of burnt plastic days later. A St. Louis man claims the fire in his dishwasher caused $100,000 in damage.

Despite the long list of complaints, there has been no recall or warning from the consumer product safety commission.

When WBZ-TV asked why, a representative refused to even confirm if they were looking into the reports.

KitchenAid’s parent company, Whirlpool, sent us a statement.

“Our safety engineers investigate and analyze any and all safety concerns reported by our consumers. If a product quality or safety issue is identified, we move swiftly and with urgency to correct the issue.”

But Maryellen isn’t buying that.

She says when she called KitchenAid, the company first denied knowing anything about this problem.

She called the company rep back the next day with a specific question.

She asked, “Did you know about kitchenaidfire.com and he said ‘yes’ so, he obviously lied to me.”

She believes the company is not taking the danger seriously.

“I could just see my house going up in flames!”

“I might have died!”

There have been no reports of injuries as a result of these fires.

The I-Team has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to try to find out what, if anything, they are doing about this.

Whirlpool encourages consumers to contact them if they experience any difficulty with their products at 800-422-1230.

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