Dehumidifier blamed for Menasha house fire

FILE PHOTO. Video shows a recalled dehumidifier unit in flames.

MENASHA, Wis. (WBAY) - For the second time in a week, a house fire in the Fox Valley is blamed on a dehumidifier.

Assistant Fire Chief Vernon Green says the latest fire happened Tuesday morning in the basement of a home on Harding Street.

Damage was contained to the area where the dehumidifier was in flames, but there was "relatively significant" damage to floor joists and utilities in that area of the unfinished basement.

Three cats were rescued from the house. Green said two were very sick from the thick, black smoke from the burning plastic, but all of them survived.

Firefighters couldn't identify the dehumidifier, which was reduced to a "blob of plastic" as the assistant chief described it. It will be up to the homeowner and insurance company to identify the dehumidifier and whether it was one previously under recall.

Last Thursday, a dehumidifier caused $5,000 damage to a home in Kaukauna. The people who were in the house got out safely. In that incident, too, the dehumidifier was too damaged to determine its make and model.

Dehumidifiers that overheat and catch fire are blamed for hundreds of house fires nationwide. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been promoting recalls of certain models since at least 2010.

The Neenah-Menasha Fire Department is urging owners of dehumidifiers -- even relatively new ones -- to check whether theirs falls under a nationwide recall.

Consumer Product Safety Commission search: Dehumidifier

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