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How this fire happened

A dishwasher was loaded with 1950s vintage silver cutlery with handles that were believed to be made of a Bakelite-type material.

One of the knives fell out of the dishwasher's cutlery basket and became jammed between the cutlery basket, water spray rotor and heating element.

The knife jammed the rotor which restricted the flow of water to the dishwasher.

The combustible handle of the knife came in to direct contact with the dishwasher's heating element and soon caught fire.

The flames then spread to the handles of the remaining cutlery in the plastic cutlery basket and the basket itself.

The occupant loaded the dishwasher and then went to another part of their house.

Approximately five to ten minutes later the occupant was alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm and was able to get out of the property and call 999.

The fire service arrived to find a localised fire within the dishwasher that generated a large volume of smoke, sufficient to fill the kitchen.

As can be seen from the photographs the highly flammable handles of several items of this cutlery had burnt way completely.

Fortunately this fire was discovered early on, as it may have had the potential to have developed further.

The effect it had

"My first thought was I couldn't believe it.

"I'd been using both the cutlery and this dishwasher for four to five years with no problems.

"I was absolutely shocked.

I was also worried because the smoke wasn't ordinary smoke but very thick, black and acrid."

Safety message​

This incident serves to underline just how important it is to have working smoke alarms in your home.

This was another fire where smoke alarms alerted the occupier to a fire.

Had they not been fitted then the fire and smoke could have continued to develop undetected and become even more serious.

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