Investigators question if dehumidifier that sparked fire was recalled

ALLOUEZ, Wis. (WBAY) - "It's like gambling. You don't know when it's going to fail," says Captain Joe Gabe with the Green Bay Metro Fire Department Fire Marshal's Office.

Burned up dehumidifier
Dehumidifier blamed for Allouez house fire on March 26, 2017 (Green Bay Metro Fire Dept. photo)

A dehumidifier caught fire in Allouez Sunday morning, causing an estimated $10,000 in damages.

That fire is now prompting a lot of questions from fire investigators.

They're trying to figure out if the machine was on the massive nationwide dehumidifier recall list or if it should have been.

Action 2 News has been telling you about the recall of Gree dehumidifiers for more than three years, with the latest warning from the federal government issued just four months ago.

This most recent fire is prompting investigators to contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission again.

"We had the occupants of the home woke up to the smell of smoke," describes Gabe.

Seconds later, they found the dehumidifier in flames.

Gabe says the family is lucky.

"The guy hit it with a fire extinguisher right away or it could have been worse," he says.

Gabe says the machine burned almost exactly like other recalled units.

"It was typical that the majority of the unit was burned from the inside out," he says.

But there's a big question of whether it was even on the recall list, based on when it was manufactured.

For now, Gabe doesn't know.

"At this point, it is suspicious that is is a dehumidifier and fits the brand name. It's just right now we don't know the year, make and model because the numbers are burned off the unit," says Gabe.

He contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission first thing Monday morning, trying to find out more.

As we've reported many times, the CPSC originally recalled Gree dehumidifiers, sold under a variety of brand names, in 2013.

The agency has expanded and reissued the recall multiple times, as recently as this past November, trying to take all 2.5 million units out of service.

Gabe says the vast majority are still unaccounted for.

"In the residential units, like I said, there's probably still millions out there being used, and unfortunately we're running across them when we get called to a fire," he says.

He says inspectors continue finding recalled units still in operation in local businesses.

"I believe we found one in the basement of a local nursing home, which concerned us, so that was taken out of service immediately while we were there," says Gabe.

Even if you've checked the recall list in the past, he's urging everyone do it again.

"They still keep happening, and they shouldn't," he adds.

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