Defective tumble dryer blamed for fatal house fire

A defective Beko tumble dryer caused a house fire that killed a British mother of two in her bedroom, a coroner has ruled.

Mishell Moloney was discovered dead under a duvet on the bedroom floor by her daughter and sister on February 7 after they smashed their way through a rear patio door to get in.

The 49-year-old died after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes and smoke caused by a small fire in the tumble dryer in the downstairs kitchen.

Birmingham Coroner’s Court heard that dryer manufacturer Beko had received reports of 20 previous fires in the same model, but none had the defect thought to have caused the blaze that killed Ms Moloney.

Beko’s director of quality, Andrew Mullen, said 38,000 units were sold in Britain and Ireland.

Recording a narrative verdict, Emma Brown, area coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, said: “It’s my conclusion Mishell’s death was due to smoke inhalation from a fire that was caused by the Beko tumble dryer within her kitchen.

“The source within the tumble dryer was the printed control board (PCB).

“It’s not possible to identify the nature of the defect which caused the fire.”

She added: “Mishell was aware of a problem with the tumble dryer before the fire because she turned the machine off. She obviously thought she’d dealt with it and went to bed intending to sort it subsequently.”

Ms Moloney, who bought the appliance in October 2012, had been home alone on the night of February 6 and texted family just before midnight. It was the last time relatives heard from her, and shortly after 4pm the next day they found Ms Moloney’s window blinds blackened with soot, and forced their way in.

An investigation at the house found the fire started in or around the area where the dryer’s PCB was.

Beko said the PCB had never been the identified cause of any blazes traced to the 8kg DCS 85W, the model Ms Moloney had. Mr Mullen said: “In virtually all cases it has been the run capacitor — I can’t think of any cases that weren’t.”

Mr Mullen said a decision not to recall the model was taken after a risk assessment and consultation with trading standards.

He revealed two smaller 6kg and 7kg models had been recalled because of 100 incidents of reported faults with the capacitor, “within the first three months”.

Asked by the coroner why Beko had not decided to recall the larger model, he said: “We looked at the number of incidents against sales, the severity of the incidents and circumstances, and in all those assessments they were all incidents that happened within 10 or 20 minutes of the tumble dryer being used.

“Nearly all those were when the tumble dryer was in unheated buildings such as a shed or outhouse. In those cases the risk of injury was low.”

He added the model was discontinued last year “as part of a range change”.


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