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CHICAGO (CBS) —  Dishwashers catching fire is a disturbing trend with brands like KitchenAid, Kenmore and Whirlpool.

All are manufactured by Whirlpool, but so far, there hasn’t been a recall. As CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports, that’s a big concern to families who have had fires.

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“It terrifies me to think what would have happened,” Virginia O’Beirne says. “I’m afraid the kitchen would have caught fire.”

It didn’t, because Virgina and Mike O’Beirne were home when their KitchenAid dishwasher started smoking and sparking.

The control panel area was glowing red as the circuit board beneath burned, Mike O’Beirne says.

The O’Beirnes called KitchenAid and were told there were no problems with their model. But the company agreed to send them a new dishwasher at half the cost.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Hundreds of people across the country say their dishwashers also caught fire.

A website created by another victim of a dishwasher fire lists 400 complaints regarding KitchenAid, Kenmore and Whirlpool dishwashers of various models, ranging from almost new to 10 years old. Fifteen of those were reported right here in the Chicago area, including by John and Irma Jarvis.

“The kitchen was full of smoke,” Irma Jarvis recalled. “All the alarms went off.”

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The Jarvis family’s KitchenAid dishwasher had started smoking shortly after Irma started a load of dishes.

“I could have lost my children, my husband, my life, my home, my dog -– everything,” she says.

KitchenAid told the Jarvises there was nothing they could do because their machine was no longer under warranty.

“I was not happy when they wouldn’t replace it and wouldn’t own up to having a problem, wouldn’t do a recall, and I told them they need to investigate it,” Irma Jarvis says.

A class-action lawsuit has just been filed.

“The complaint asserts that there is a design defect in the control panel in each of these machines that causes the control panel to burn up,” says Charles S. Fax, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit. “At some point, it combusts and erupts into flames.”

Whirlpool, the parent company for KitchenAid and Kenmore, tells CBS 2 it has started an internal investigation into these reports. Whirlpool says product quality and consumer safety are top priorities. The company’s consumer hotline is (800) 422-1230.

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission is also investigating. The commission encourages anyone who has had a problem like these to contact them.