Electric kettle is believed to have been the cause of a house fire

Energy type: 
Electricity
 
Event summary: 
Energy Safety received notification three weeks after the event of a fire that resulted in a triple fatality occurring in Waimate. An electric kettle was believed to have been the likely cause of the fire, and Energy Safety was requested to assist with the investigation. The upstairs kitchen fire extended to multiple rooms at the property.

 
Accident ID: 
150828 01
 
Accident date: 
5 August 2015
 
Site: 
Domestic
 
Environment: 
Building
 
Voltage: 
230
 
Equipment: 
Liquid heating; Kettles; Urns
 
Accident type: 
Fire
 
Casualty: 
Non-fatality
 
Injury: 
Burn, Asphyxiation
 
Property damage level: 
Extended to multiple rooms
 
Outcome of investigation: 

The fire investigators and the police determined that the kettle was the likely cause of the fire. The Energy Safety investigation was in respect of the kettle only. Photographs from the fire scene clearly indicate fire patterns emanating from the area where the kettle remains were found, and nothing else was suggested as a possible source of ignition from the scene in that area. On the basis that the kettle was responsible for the fire it was not possible from the examination of the kettle remains to determine whether the kettle was operating at the time of the fire, or what failure allowed the fire to occur in the kettle. It could not be determined whether the kettle had been subjected to abnormal conditions, such as being dropped etc. that may have accounted for the kettle’s eventual failure. Given statements obtained by the police, the kettle may have been accidentally switched on with no water and cycled on and off on a self resetting safety cut out for an extensive period which was not detected by the family. Eventually this protective device failed and the secondary protection failed to operate. Well over 66,000 of this model of kettle have been sold since April 2014 and this is the only reported fire that may have been caused by this model. Although kettle failure is considered likely, no further action is recommended at this time as the evidence available was not conclusive as to the actual cause of failure.