Mother dies in a fire sparked by a tumble dryer that has been linked to 20 previous blazes

An inquest heard a small fire had started inside the Beko tumble dryer in the kitchen of Mishell Moloney's home in Rubery, Birmingham. Photo / Getty Images
An inquest heard a small fire had started inside the Beko tumble dryer in the kitchen of Mishell Moloney's home in Rubery, Birmingham. Photo / Getty Images

A mother-of-two was killed by a faulty tumble dryer which a manufacturer had failed to recall - despite the model being responsible for 20 previous fires.

Mishell Moloney, 49, was found dead under a duvet next to her bed by her daughter Jodie, 30, and sister Tracey on February 7.

An inquest heard a small fire had started inside the Beko tumble dryer in the kitchen of Moloney's home in Rubery, Birmingham.

Emergency services rushed to the property but the fire was already out by the time family members had managed to force their way in.

Despite the efforts of paramedics Moloney was pronounced dead at the scene.

A pathologist found Moloney, who was also a grandmother-of-two and carer to her 17-year-old deaf son, had died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation.

Blood tests revealed Moloney had a carbon monoxide saturation of 71 per cent - above the fatal limit of between 25 and 50 per cent.

Emma Brown, Area Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, was told the fire had started in the printed circuit board of the 8kg capacity dryer.

Birmingham Coroners Court heard Beko had not recalled the product despite receiving reports of 20 incidents where the same DCS 85W model had set alight.

Recording a narrative verdict, the coroner added: "It's my conclusion that Mishell's death was due to smoke inhalation from a fire that was caused by the Beko tumble dryer in her kitchen.

Mishell Moloney died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation. Photo / Twitter
Mishell Moloney died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation. Photo / Twitter

"It's not possible to identify the nature of the defect which caused the fire.

"She had inhaled fatal levels of carbon monoxide from a fire that started in a Beko tumble dryer that she had purchased in 2012.

"The deceased probably passed away during the early hours having gone to bed after switching off the tumble dryer and washing machine.

"Beko had previously received 20 reports of spontaneous fires.

"It had been determined that a recall was not required because the risk of injury was very low.

"Mishell was aware of the problem with the tumble dryer before the fire because she turned the main switch off but it clearly wasn't apparent to her that turning off the mains wasn't going to solve the problem.

"She obviously thought she had dealt with the problem and went to bed intending to deal with it subsequently.

"The medical cause of Mishell's death I record as 1a) carbon monoxide poisoning and 1b) smoke inhalation.'

Moloney also had a reading of 320 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, four times the drink-drive limit of 80 micrograms, the inquest heard.

Giving evidence, Tracey Moloney described her sister as "joyful" and "organised".

She told the coroner the mum would always make sure she did her washing and drying and then folded them up and put them away before she went to bed.

After the case, her daughter Jodie said in a statement: "My mum was quite simply the best mum my brother Joshua and I could have asked for and losing her was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with.

"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss her. Since she passed away there has been a void in my life that will never be filled.

"She was everything you could hope for in a mum; kind generous and loving.

"We were so close and she did everything she could to make her family happy.

"She was a brilliant nan to my children Chloe and Callum. They are devastated that she is gone.

"The hardest thing of all is that I didn't get to tell her how much I loved her.

"I always said to her that she was my warrior as she would always stand up for us but I just wish I could have one last hug to say good bye.

"She was my warrior, my hero, my mum and I will miss her forever."

Moloney's daughter Jodie described her mother as 'the best mum she could have asked for'. Photo / Twitter
Moloney's daughter Jodie described her mother as 'the best mum she could have asked for'. Photo / Twitter

Jodie's lawyer, Paul Tapner added: "This is a tragic case that has seen a mother and grandmother taken early from her loved ones.

"Mishell's death has hit her family hard and they need answers from the manufacturer of the tumble dryer where the fire that claimed her life started.

"It is only then that they will be able to move on with their lives."

An investigation uncovered evidence that the fire had started in or around the area where dryer's printed circuit board (PCB) was.

The dryer's manufacturer, Beko, said the PCB had never been the identified cause of any of 20 previous fires traced to the 8kg DCS 85W model.

Andrew Mullen, Beko's quality control manger for the UK and Ireland, said 35,000 units of the dryer had been sold in the UK and Ireland, adding it complied with European safety standards and the UK's general fire safety regulations.

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

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 what faults had caused the 20 previous fires, he said: "In virtually all cases it has been the run capacitor - I can't think of any cases that weren't."

In a statement after the case Mullen said: "This was a tragic accident and we send our deepest condolences and sympathies to the relatives and friends of the Moloney family.

"Safety is our highest priority and we sincerely regret any incident linked to one of our products.

"We have worked closely with all relevant authorities throughout this investigation in an attempt to establish the reasons that led to the fire in Ms Moloney's property.

"Despite investigations from two of the UK's most respected forensic companies, there is no conclusive evidence to point to why a fire started in Ms Moloney's tumble dryer."

FIRE INVESTIGATION OFFICER'S EVIDENCE

James McDonald, a fire investigation officer for West Midlands Fire Service, told the coroner Moloney would have been in bed when she was overcome by the smoke.

Giving evidence, he said: "She was in bed at the time of the fire, at some point she became aware that there was a fire and tried to get out.

"It was a very localised small fire, in my experience a very small fire. It (the house) was cold, there was no fire and no smoke.

"It had completely destroyed the tumble dryer and affected other items within the kitchen.

"Closer examination of the electrics would indicate the tumble dryer was in the off position.

"It's possible Mishell turned it off herself thinking there was a problem because on closer inspection the washing machine was turned off halfway through a cycle.

"It was full of washing and full of water as well.

"The hypothesis used at the time is because the washing machine was halfway through it was as if maybe a problem had occurred with the tumble dryer and she had taken the clothes out and switched it off.

"It's feasible."

- Daily Mail

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