London Fire Brigade

Total Recalls: Investigation concludes dryer to blame for Shepherd’s Bush blaze

06 October 2016

A faulty Indesit tumble dryer subject to a safety notice was the cause of a huge Shepherd's Bush tower block blaze, a painstaking six week London Fire Brigade investigation has concluded.

Following their initial attendance at the scene, fire investigators said they believed the tumble dryer was behind the August blaze, which seriously damaged part of the 18-storey high rise block and took 120 firefighters to bring under control.

Witnesses caught footage of the flames and smoke during the incident on 19 August 2016.

The Brigade's extensive investigation has now concluded that "all the physical evidence in the flat clearly indicated that the fire had started in the tumble dryer".

It also found "the physical evidence corroborated witness accounts that the fire had started in the dryer", as well as other evidence that "showed an engineer had been due to visit the property to carry out modifications".

Following the completion of the final investigation report, and as part of the Brigade's Total Recalls campaign, which aims to make white goods safer, fire chiefs have renewed their call for the dryer's parent company Whirlpool to change its advice to consumers.

Whirlpool still maintains that people may continue to use the affected dryers while they are waiting for them to be modified, so long as they are not left unattended.

Unplug the machine and stop using it

The Brigade strongly disagrees and is urging anyone with one of the models in question to immediately unplug the machine and stop using it.

London Fire Brigade's Director of Operations Dave Brown said: "This fire has highlighted just how dangerous faulty white goods can be.

"Disappointingly though, Whirlpool have still not changed their advice to consumers.

"Following the conclusion of our investigation we are now appealing once again for them to change their advice and bring it into line with our own.

"Thankfully there were no serious injuries in the Shepherd's Bush fire but we may not be so lucky if it happens again.

"It was vital that we conducted such a robust and systematic investigation to get a clear picture of what happened.

"Following an exhaustive examination of the scene and the remains of the appliance by our specialist fire investigators we remain satisfied the cause was the faulty dryer."

The investigation process

To make sure it came to a robust conclusion, the Brigade's exhaustive six week investigation into the Shepherd's Bush fire left no stone unturned to ensure all other possible causes were eliminated.

Fire investigators, specialist scientific advisers and a fire investigation dog were all used to determine exactly where the fire started.

Above: The heavily fire damaged appliance was examined in a specialist laboratory.

Forensic investigations were carried out at the scene and in a specialist laboratory, where the remains of the dryer were examined. Information was also gathered from witnesses.

All possible ignition sources were identified and examined, including comparing the remains of the heavily fire damaged appliance with one that was undamaged.