Dehumidifier catches on fire just hours after WTHR recall report

Dehumidifier dangers
Dehumidifier Dangers 6pm

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Just hours after WTHR warned homeowners about a nationwide recall involving millions of faulty dehumidifiers, a central Indiana family became the latest victims.

Tom Wood and his family were playing a game at their kitchen table last night when they smelled smoke. Tom went downstairs to check things out and discovered a wall of smoke.

“Smoke just started rolling out and I stuck my head around the corner and I saw flames,” he told WTHR. “I couldn’t see what was on fire, but I could just see flames.”

He ran to get a fire extinguisher as his daughter called 911. Tom tried to douse the flames before they all ran outside to wait for firefighters.

By the time they got back in, it was clear where the fire had started.

“That is a dehumidifier,” Virginia Wood said, pointing to a burned pile of coils and wire sitting on the basement floor. “It caught fire and melted in place.”

“Yeah, it was just a melted mess,” said Carmel Fire Department public information officer Tim Griffin.

Carmel and Westfield firefighters who responded to the fire were amazed to see firsthand what 13 Investigates had reported just a few hours earlier -- that dehumidifiers like the one in the Woods’ basement are catching fire all over the nation. More than 5.6 million dehumidifiers are now recalled. They've already caused more than $24 million in damage. The recalled units include hundreds of different models sold at big name retailers across the country and on the internet.

Last month, Max McCauley’s house in Kokomo suffered an estimated $200,000 in damage because of a dehumidifier that caught on fire. He was not home at the time of the fire.

The Wood family is grateful it had a full-size fire extinguisher in the house and says if no one had been home, their house might have burned to the ground. Even worse, the fire could have started while they were sleeping. “Scary,” Tom said, with tears welling up in his eyes.

Like most families, they didn't know about the danger. And they did not get to see the warning WTHR broadcast just three hours before smoke and fire filled their house.

“We were busy playing games while you were having that wonderful story about the dehumidifiers. We did not catch it but the police told us about it when they got here. The firemen told us about it. Several neighbors told us about it and friends posting on Facebook told us about it, so we're well informed now,” said Virginia.

Both the Wood family and Carmel firefighters say if you haven't yet checked your dehumidifier, do it now.

“Whether you’re sure you have one on the recall list or not, get ‘em unplugged and quit using them,” Virginia said.

“Go check if you have a dehumidifier, and if it’s on the recall list take care of that,” said Griffin. “Until you find out, I'd unplug it and take it out of use until you find out what you need to do with that item that's on recall.”

How to check your dehumidifier

To find out whether your dehumidifier poses a fire hazard, find the label on the back of the unit. Write down the brand, model and serial number and see if that information matches any of the models from one of these two dehumidifier recalls:

2016 RECALL: In November 2016, about 3.4 million dehumidifiers were recalled by the GD Midea Air Conditioning Company of China. Midea manufacturers dehumidifiers under the following brand names: Airworks, Alen, Arctic King, Arcticaire, Beaumark, Comfort Star, ComfortAire, Continental Electric, Coolworks, Crosley, Daewoo, Danby, Danby Designer, Dayton, Degree, Diplomat, Edgestar, Excell, Fellini, Forest Air, Frigidaire, GE, Grunaire, Hanover, Homestyles, Honeywell, Hyundai, Ideal Air, Kenmore, Keystone, Kul, Midea, Nantucket, Ocean Breeze, Pelonis, Perfect Aire, Perfect Home, Polar Wind, Premiere, Professional Series, Royal Sovereign, Simplicity, SPT, Sunbeam, Sylvania, TGM, Touch Point, Trutemp, Uberhaus, Westpointe, Winix, and Winixl. Enter the product information from the back of your dehumidifier into this searchable database provided by Midea to see if it is included in the recall.

2013 RECALL: You can also check this list of 84 affected makes and models recalled by the Gree Corporation in late 2013. That recall involves dehumidifiers with brand names Danby, De'Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima.

If your dehumidifier is on one of the recall lists, the Consumer Product Safety Commission advises you to turn it off, unplug it and stop using it immediately. Contact the manufacturer (at the links provided above) for a replacement or refund under the terms of the recall.