A mum and her four kids were forced to flee their beds overnight after an Indesit tumble dryer burst into flames – destroying £20,000 of their belongings.
Claire Knowles, 32, was woken up by their fire alarm and bundled her family out of their house when she found her kitchen filled with flames.
Firefighters extinguished the flames in minutes – but it had destroyed the kitchen while smoke ruined belongings in the entire house.
The fire service confirmed the tumble dryer, which was drying the kids clothes overnight, is believed to have caused the blaze.
A number of Indesit dryers, manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015, experienced critical faults that led to some models catching fire.
Affected dryers were recalled and the fault fixed but Claire says she’s unsure of the age of her machine, bought in December 2016.
Claire – who didn’t have content insurance – complained to Whirlpool, who own Indesit.
The company says an investigation is still ongoing and “the cause has not yet been identified”.
Claire, from Highley, Shropshire, said: “Hindsight is a great thing. Obviously I wish I had contents insurance.
“I’m still waiting to hear back from Whirlpool. Every time I get in touch they just tell me that they’ll update me soon.
“It has turned our lives completely upside down and we are still rebuilding over lives now.
“We’ve got nothing compared to what we did have six months ago.
“It has left me crippled financially, everything just got on top of me. My biggest regret in life is putting the tumble dryer on that night.
“If I didn’t our lives wouldn’t have been ruined.”
The fire broke out at 2.45am on February 27 while Claire slept on the downstairs sofa with her son, Cobee Buckley, five, and daughter Minnie Buckley, aged one.
They were on the sofa because the family were decorating their rooms, and Knowles, 12, and and Riley Buckley, three, were sleeping in bedrooms upstairs.
Full-time-mum, Claire, said: “I saw smoke coming from under the kitchen door and I was hit by the warmth of the fire.
“I opened the door and saw the tumble dryer on fire. The flames were up to the ceiling and just slammed the door shut.
“I was terrified. I knew I had to get out of the house. Riley was in the room directly above the kitchen and my first instinct was to get him out.
“It’s every mum’s worst nightmare. In a split second a million things went through my mind.
“My eldest daughter grabbed the baby and I ran up to the kids upstairs. We all ran outside and I knocked on a neighbour’s door for help.”
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service extinguished the blaze in minutes, but there was extensive smoke damage to the rest of the home.
The family lost at least £20,000 worth of belongings, including children’s toys, clothes, TVs, appliances and precious family photos.
Claire and her family had been living in the semi-detached house for two years and she says she didn’t have contents insurance.
The family were forced to stay with Claire’s parents for five months until housing provider, Clarion, were able to find them a new home in July.
“We were left homeless and lost everything. Most of it could have been replaced but I was gutted about losing personal things”, said Claire.
“It had a massive effect on us, it was traumatic. It has been a complete nightmare.
“Even after the fire I kept thinking I could smell smoke when I was walking down the street.
“We had nothing when we moved into the new house. We have had to take handouts where we could.”
Claire has lodged an official complaint to Whirlpool, who own Indesit, after it was revealed the tumble dryer is believed to have caused the blaze.
The company says an investigation is still ongoing and from their point of view, “the cause has not yet been identified”.
A loss adjuster was appointed to the case and Claire is hoping to get compensation.
A Whirlpool spokesperson said: “In 2015, we identified a potential concern with two types of tumble dryers.
“The affected dryers were manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline brands.
“Nothing matters more to us than people’s safety.
“That’s why we proactively raised this issue and launched an extensive campaign to fix it – which has delivered unprecedented results.
“We can confirm that no appliances manufactured after September 2015 are affected by this issue. Dryers sold in December 2016 would not be affected.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to Miss Knowles and are doing all we can to understand how this incident took place.
“Investigations are ongoing and the cause has not yet been identified, therefore it would be inappropriate to draw any conclusions at this stage.”