2 Investigators: Samsung Microwave Catches Fire

(CBS) — Heating up a bowl of chili nearly turned into a disaster for a Chicago area family when their new microwave started on fire.

2 Investigator Dave Savini found it has happened to others, too.

David Lissner shows CBS 2 the spot where his microwave started on fire after owning it less than a week.

“It was four days old,” he says.

He demonstrates the problem by simply turning on the microwave. After a few minutes, there are popping sounds and flames shooting from an inside panel of his Samsung microwave.

The fire could have easily spread, Lissner says. It continued to burn after the microwave was off.

“There’s a liquor cabinet above it and a venting system that goes through the walls,” he says.

Lissner complained to Samsung.

“The fellow came out from Samsung,” he says. “He said a couple of these have been burning up.”

CBS 2 found other instances of burnt Samsung microwaves on consumer web sites. Sixty-one fire-related complaints were filed with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission dating back to 2011. Often, the reports are similar to Lissner’s complaint about the interior side panel burning and melting and there are repeated concerns about the potential fire danger.

“I’m pretty sure that panel is defective,” Lissner says.

Dr. Carrie Hall, an assistant professor in mechanical materials at the Illinois Institute of Technology, has concerns.

She questions whether the materials used in the failing microwaves are somehow different than the ones that work fine. Hall also says the problem could be electrical or something else.

“It’s possible that something gets contaminated,” Hall says. “That makes it more flammable or doesn’t make it withstand the same amount of energy that it would normally.”

She says it’s hard to tell without further testing. Lissner wants to see that happen.

Samsung gave Lissner a new microwave, but he and his wife are concerned it might fail, too.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s going to be safe,” he says.

Samsung says safety is their highest priority and Lissner’s experience was unusual, given the many microwaves sold. It also said the company resolved Lissner’s situation to his satisfaction.

Lissner disagrees. He says Samsung would not pay for the new microwave’s installation, and would not repair damage to his cabinets and ventilation system. His microwave model number was ME18H704SFS.

The complete Samsung statement is as follows:

“Customer safety remains our highest priority and we regret the experience that Mr. Lissner had with his microwave. We take every product incident seriously and while his experience was unusual for the many Samsung microwaves sold in the U.S., we have followed up with him and resolved the matter to his satisfaction. We strive to deliver the best possible experience to all our customers, and we encourage anyone with questions to contact us directly at 1-800-SAMSUNG.”

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