NSW

EXCLUSIVE

Sydney childcare centre evacuated after Samsung washing machine catches fire

A fire at a Sydney childcare centre that triggered the evacuation of 78 children was caused by a recalled Samsung washing machine, authorities say.

NSW Fair Trading confirmed the Samsung washing machine's model number is SW75V9 - one of six top-loader models subject to a mandatory recall. It is unclear whether the machine was repaired.

Samsung washing machine blaze destroys home

Joel Hudson and his family lost their Newcastle home to a fire caused by a repaired Samsung washing machine in August 2015.

Just after 3pm on Wednesday, fire crews tackled a blaze in the laundry room of an Only About Children day care centre on Brook Street in Coogee, as 78 children and 22 adults were evacuated. The rest of the centre was undamaged.

"The fire has caused water and smoke damage, confined to the laundry area. Fair Trading are aware that Samsung are attending the site today to offer assistance to the business and conduct further investigation of the incident," a Fair Trading spokeswoman said.

A hundred adults and children had to evacuate the Only About Children Coogee Campus because of a fire.
A hundred adults and children had to evacuate the Only About Children Coogee Campus because of a fire. Photo: Edwina Pickles

"Samsung have advised that they will provide updated information to Fair Trading as soon as it becomes available."

The six models have been recalled since April 2013 because of a major waterproofing fault that has sparked fires across the country.

In NSW alone, fire crews have responded to 45 fires involving Samsung washing machines since the recall, including one caused by a repaired machine that destroyed Joel and Angela Hudson's Newcastle home in August.

A Samsung spokesman said it took the safety of its customers very seriously.

Six Samsung top loader washing machine models are subject to a mandatory recall.
Six Samsung top loader washing machine models are subject to a mandatory recall. 

"We were deeply concerned to hear about an incident in Coogee, NSW. The case has been brought to our attention and we are investigating the matter," he said.

Fairfax Media has contacted Only About Children - a network of 37 child care centres run by former investment banker Brendan McAssey - for comment.

Joel Hudson's house was destroyed by a Samsung washing machine fire in August 2015.
Joel Hudson's house was destroyed by a Samsung washing machine fire in August 2015. Photo: Supplied

Concerned owners are now claiming both recalled and non-recalled models are smoking, over-heating and catching alight.

The non-recalled models are being sold by major retailers as well as being offered as replacements.

Tarnya Allen, who runs a 2200-member strong Facebook group of concerned owners, said she was aware of eight incidents caused by non-recalled machines.

She said NSW Fair Trading had not yet responded to her letter reporting the cases. Her correspondence also raised concerns over Samsung's plastic-bag-and-tape repair which one forensic expert deemed "deficient".

"The recall began nearly three years ago. There is absolutely no excuse why innocent children whose lives have hardly began should have been put at risk," she said.

"Out of 144,000 machines recalled, only 23 per cent have been refunded or replaced. The remainder have either been repaired with a potentially deadly plastic bag or are left unchecked in family homes."

The Samsung spokesman said the company was investigating "a small number" of customers with concerns about their washing machines.

"These washing machine models are not subject to Samsung's voluntary recall of six top-loader washing machines initiated in 2013. Investigations to date have concluded these units do not pose a risk to customer safety," he said.

The latest Samsung recall progress report, released in late December, shows 69 per cent of the 144,451 recalled machines have been repaired, exchanged or refunded.

There are still 18,910 faulty machines in NSW homes or even the second-hand marketplace.

"If moisture penetrates the machine's electrical connectors, a fire hazard can result. There have been reports of 252 fires/smoking incidents with the recalled models," ACCC's deputy chair Delia Rickard said at the time.

"Under the Australian Consumer Law, owners of affected machines are entitled to their choice of a repair, an exchange or a full refund. Consumers who have had their machine repaired and are concerned about or dissatisfied with the repair are still entitled to ask for a refund or replacement from their supplier."

Do you know more? ehan@smh.com.au

Samsung urges consumers who may be impacted by the recall to visit www.samsung.com/au/washingmachinerecall or call 1800 239 655.

The following models are impacted:

SW75V9WIP/XSA
SW65V9WIP/XSA
SW70SPWIP/XSA
SW80SPWIP/XSA
WA85GWGIP/XSA
WA85GWWIP/XSA