Mulbarton couple say recalled product fire was preventable

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Media captionEvery year hundreds of house fires have been caused by faulty domestic appliances, some resulting in fatalities

A couple from Norfolk whose house was badly damaged in a fire caused by a faulty dishwasher said the blaze could "easily have been avoided".

Marga Kampenaar and Derek Boughtflower, of Mulbarton, were rescued after their Bosch appliance caught fire in March.

The couple, whose four dogs were killed, told BBC Inside Out they were aware their dishwasher was faulty but had not been told it was unsafe to use.

Manufacturer BSH Homes Appliances said recall notices had been publicised.

The Milton Keynes-based company said it had advertised the recall in newspapers, set up a dedicated website and there was also a TV report to alert people to the risk of fire.

Image caption The couple's four dogs were killed in the house fire

The couple said they heard their product had been recalled and phoned the company, which told them an engineer would visit in two weeks.

The fire, on 28 March, happened days before the dishwasher was due to be repaired.

"The whole of the upstairs was filled with this black acrid thick smoke and you could not breathe," said Ms Kampenaar.

"I got to an open window and they [firefighters] put me out over the conservatory and you could hear it melting.

"We've since learnt that we had another couple of minutes and then they don't think they could have got us out.

"It is all so pointless, to have lost so much for something that could so easily have been avoided."

BSH Homes Appliances said the fault concerned "a limited number" of dishwashers manufactured between 1999 and 2005 and that "800,000 letters were sent to potentially affected customers".

In a statement they said: "It is our standard practice to advise customers at the point of booking the engineers they should not use the dishwasher unattended.

"Graham Crisp, from Suffolk Trading Standards, said there were "potentially millions" of faulty goods in homes as just 10 to 20% of recalled items were returned.

"The law could be more explicit in requiring a duration of the message because often a recall will go out and fizzle away after a few weeks," he said.

Image caption Marga Kampenaar had to move out of her home for months

"The law could and should be changed to keep an onus on manufacturers to make sure messages are prominent and continuous."

In the last six years there have been nearly 270 recalls of electrical goods.

Barry Mulcahy, co-founder of not-for-profit website Recall UK, said manufacturers should be required to publicise the success rates of their recall campaigns.

"There were two recalls started about six months ago for tumble driers," said Mr Mulcahy.

"During that time one manufacturer has managed to find 88% of effective recalls and the other has only found 10%.

"The reason is they took completely different strategies on how to communicate that information."

For more on this story, watch Inside Out East, Monday at 19:30 BST on BBC One

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