Is your washing machine at risk

By Andrew Bonallack


The washing machine which nearly cost a Masterton family their home is a brand seemingly notorious for catching fire.

The Cockburn St fire in Masterton on Tuesday night, reported by the Times-Age yesterday, started in a Samsung top-loader washing machine.

A family of four were forced to evacuate but fire crews managed to stop the blaze, which destroyed a bathroom and laundry, plus surrounding walls and ceiling.

The latest incident comes after Samsung issuing safety warnings to New Zealand customers about four models of washing machines earlier this month.

The products have been linked to 15 fires in Australia and now three in New Zealand.

This month a Samsung machine caught fire in Auckland, while last year a woman lost half her house in Oamaru after her washer went up in flames.

The Auckland owner managed to douse her fire with a garden hose but the Cockburn St family, who also fought the fire with a hose and extinguishers, were beaten back.

Yesterday the Times-Age revisited the family, who are tenants in the house.

Their machine's model number, SW65ASPIW/YMI, was still visible but did not appear to match one of the four models detailed by Samsung.

The Times-Age passed the number on to the company yesterday.

A spokesperson for Samsung NZ issued a statement, saying the company was "very concerned" about the Masterton incident.

"As the safety of our customers is our top priority, we will immediately initiate an inquiry into this issue and work closely with the NZ Fire Service."

The family said they were alerted by their smoke alarm while sitting down to dinner.

Father, Vinnie van der Linde, discovered the machine with smoke coming out and the glow of a fire underneath.

He said nothing else was on fire. He told his son to find a torch, before turning the power off and getting everyone out of the house.

"I got a garden hose, buckets of water, two fire extinguishers.

"Because the washing machine being in its case, I couldn't get to the electrics."

He battled the blaze, retreating every so often to breathe.

"I was surrounded by smoke, I couldn't do any more."

He thinks the machine is "six to eight years old".

Mr van der Linde's partner and two children stayed at home yesterday, after a night without power.

His daughter said it was a scary night.

"We were eating dinner, just about to watch Shortland Street. Dad went to have a look and he started yelling. We went outside," the girl said.

Both children think their Dad is a hero.

His partner said the fire had made it into the roof and was already starting to scorch boxes and cartons up there.

"If he hadn't done what he did, we could have easily lost half the house," she said.

An insurance assessor and the landlord, with his lawyer, were on site yesterday to look at the damage.

Masterton fire officer Mike Cornford, who attended the fire, said they believe the cause was the washing machine.

He said a garden hose might handle a small fire but that kind of fire could double in size every minute. "We were very pleased to be able to stop it where we did."

He said the good thing was the family had working smoke alarms. "It prevented a lot of damage and saved their lives."

Samsung NZ have asked any affected customers to contact 0800 855 502 / 0800 162 888 or visit www.samsung.com/nz/support/rework/.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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