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Capacitor failure in Fridge Freezer.
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Capacitor failure in a fridge freezer

[ Zoom ]
The outside of the block of flats. The fire was in the first floor flat.
The outside of the block of flats. The fire was in the first floor flat.
capacitor 2
[ Zoom ]
capacitor 3
The front door and hallway of the flat showing the degree of fire damage.

How this fire happened

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capacitor 4
The kitchen in the flat. The fridge-freezer is to the left of the picture.

The fire occurred in the early hours of the morning in a flat on the first floor of a purpose built block of five floors.  The fire caused severe damage to the kitchen and hallway of the flat, the remainder of the flat was severely damaged by heat and smoke.

The flat was occupied by two adults both of whom were asleep at the time of the fire.  One of the occupiers awoke to find smoke in the bedroom, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.  The second occupier, an adult female, was trapped by the fire and was found unconscious in her bedroom by fire crews wearing breathing apparatus who rescued her.  Both occupiers suffered smoke inhalation and burns.  

The effect it had

Both occupiers recovered from their injuries, however the adult female rescued by firefighters remained in hospital recovering for a number of weeks.  The psychological effects of such distressing fires as this, are likely to be felt for a lot longer. 

The flat was badly damaged and required considerable work to be make habitable again.  The flat below was also damaged by water from leaking pipes, which failed as a result of the fire.

Safety message

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capacitor 5
The capacitor casing in the bottom of the fridge-freezer remains.

No smoke alarms were fitted in the flat.  A working smoke alarm fitted in the hallway of the flat would have operated and alerted the occupiers at an early stage, allowing them to leave the property.

You should also ensure any electrical products are registered with the manufacturer so that in case of any future safety issue being identified that may result in a product recall, you will be notified. 

If you did not register your appliance when first purchased you can do it now, Register My Appliance.

You can also check to see if any of your appliances are currently subject to a product recall by searching on our product recall search engines.

If you have any doubts about the safety of any appliance – do not use it and contact the supplier or a competent tradesperson to check.

Always ensure that there is a working smoke alarm which is tested regularly and you have a practised emergency plan for you and all the family.

Do you have a similar story?

We would be interested to hear from you if you have had a similar experience to the fire detailed above, or would like to raise any related matters or even just generally comment on how useful you found our Black Museum.

Please send us your details and a comments via our on-line feedback form.


This case study was contributed by London Fire Brigade
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Latest Update :
07 December 2015
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