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Fridge-freezer caused Lupin Point blaze says fire brigade

Last week's dramatic fire at Lupin Point in Bermondsey was caused by a faulty BEKO fridge-freezer, according to the London Fire Brigade.

No-one was seriously injured in last Tuesday's fire on the 17th floor of the 21-storey block at the northern end of Abbey Street.

Eyewitnesses had believed that the fire was caused by a lightning strike as a fierce electrical storm was playing out over Bermondsey at the time of the blaze.

The make and model of fridge-freezer involved has been known to be faulty for at least a year.

It is believed there could be as many as 500,000 of the potentially faulty fridge freezers in homes and businesses across the country.

There are believed to have been 20 fires in the capital involving the fridge freezers since 2008, with 15 injuries and one death.

Over the last three years the London Fire Brigade's fire investigation team has been working to establish the link between a faulty defroster timer switch on the appliances and a number of house fires the brigade has attended.

"Any fire can be lethal but the London Fire Brigade is particularly concerned about this because fires involving any sort of fridge freezer develop rapidly and produce an enormous amount of toxic smoke," says Steve Turek, London Fire Brigade's assistant commissioner for fire safety regulation.

"Expert fire investigators have had to work for a long time to confidently establish these faulty fridge freezers as the cause of a number of serious fires.

"Having established this link, we have worked closely with BEKO to ensure the public is kept safe. However, the brigade urges everyone who has a BEKO fridge freezer to check it is not one of those highlighted by the company as potentially faulty.

"I would also urge everyone to make sure they have a working smoke alarm in their house."

The problem occurs when water gets into the defrost timer switch in the fridge freezer, which can lead to an electrical malfunction resulting in plastic components and other highly flammable insulation inside the appliance catching fire.

The brigade formally alerted BEKO to the problem in June 2010 and following meetings between BEKO and fire investigators, the manufacturer has now begun trying to locate the products so that the fault can be corrected.

Fire brigade chiefs are urging people to check if they own the affected models of BEKO fridge-freezer which were manufactured between January 2000 and October 2006.

People who own any of the appliances should contact BEKO on 0800 009 4837.

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