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Hotpoint tumble dryer most likely cause of Llanrwst house fire deaths, says coroner

Fire which caused two deaths started in the door of a Whirlpool-owned tumble dryer brand

A Hotpoint tumble dryer has been identified as the likely cause of a 2014 flat fire in North Wales which killed two men, Denbighshire coroners court ruled today.

In his narrative conclusion, assistant coroner for North East Wales and Central, David Lewis, found that on the balance of probabilities the fire was caused by an electrical fault inside the door of a Hotpoint tumble dryer, a brand owned by Whirlpool.

Douglas McTavish and Bernard Hender both died after a fire at their flat in Llanwrst, Denbighshire in October 2014. Garry Lloyd Jones survived the blaze and told the hearing that on the night of the fire, he’d seen flames coming out of the dryer.

During his conclusion Mr Lewis noted that he had concerns about evidence gathered by Whirlpool and that he would write to the company about these. He also dismissed one potential cause of the fire, proposed by a Whirlpool expert, as ‘fanciful’ and another as ‘unlikely’.

Which? calls for product recall

Reacting to today’s news, Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill said: ‘In the face of the tragic deaths of these two men, Whirlpool can no longer continue to ignore its responsibility for the safety of its customers and must now conduct a full product recall of the potentially lethal tumble dryers in people’s homes across the country.

‘This tragic case shows once again that the product safety system is broken and is potentially putting lives at risk. The government must create a national body that can get unsafe products out of people’s homes.’

Learn about your consumer rights when a product is recalled.

Which? action to prevent future deaths

We will write to the coroner to request that he produces a ‘prevention of future deaths’ report. This kind of report is produced following an inquest when there is a risk of future deaths happening in a similar way.

We also want the government to take action on product safety. We will contact the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to call for a full-product recall of the Hotpoint dryer at the centre of this tragedy.

Which? is calling for urgent changes to the UK’s product safety regime, including the creation of a new national body designed to take control of dangerous situations as they arise and get products out of people’s homes quickly, as well as creating a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information on product recalls.

We think that the government has been too slow to respond to serious incidents – and subsequent reviews – following product-related fires.

The model number for the dryer involved in the Llanwrst fire hasn’t been made public yet, but once it has been, we’ll update this story. For now, if you’re at all concerned, call Hotpoint on 0800 597 8555.

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