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Eyewitness News Investigates: Dishwasher Danger?

A Fresno family's dishwasher sparked a fire in the middle of a cycle. Turns out, there are hundreds of reported cases nationwide. But why no recall? CBS47's Zara Arboleda investigates.
A Fresno family contacted Eyewitness News Investigator Zara Arboleda after their dishwasher caught fire Sunday night, in the middle of a cycle.

"It was just surreal," Glenda Greene says. "I looked over and there were flames up over the counter from the dishwasher." It appears the fire sparked in the circuit board, which is attached to the door.

The Greenes bought the dishwasher from the Sears at Fresno's Manchester Center in 2004. When they contacted the company after the fire, they were told the dishwasher wasn't under warranty anymore and that there was no recall ever issued for that model of Kenmore Elite dishwashers.

A few years ago, Whirlpool - which manufacturers appliances for several brands, including Kenmore - recalled more than 160,000 dishwashers. It cited a potential fire hazard with the motor, not the circuit board.

When Zara contacted Sears about the Greene family's problem, a spokesperson issued this statement: "The safety of our customers is our primary focus. This is the first we are hearing about this incident. We are reaching out to the homeowner directly to further investigate this dishwasher issue."

Zara also discovered that a class-action lawsuit against Sears and Whirlpool was filed in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles back in November of 2011. The suit claims that the companies knew the dishwasher circuit boards could overheat and spark a fire. No voluntary recall was issued.

A consumer watchdog group started tracking this problem since 2009, and since then has received more than 1,000 complaints from people around the country about similar fires.

Sears will send a technician to the Greene home later this week, to take a closer look at their dishwasher.

Meantime, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into what happened, as well. It's urging anyone who encounters big problems with *any* appliance to report it on the CPSC website. Click on the related links for more information.

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