New developments following exclusive NewsChannel5 investigation into microwave oven fires

Class action lawsuit seeks confidential documents

CLEVELAND - There are new developments following an exclusive NewsChannel5 investigation that prompted a federal class action law suit into microwave oven fires.

The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturer knew its microwave ovens were defective but a federal court has ordered sensitive documents to be placed under a protective seal--preventing information that could reveal defects to become public.

According to a consumer watchdog group, millions of dishwashers, fridges and ranges are on, and have been on government recall lists. But a NewsChannel5 investigation was the first to reveal problems with microwaves, in May 2009. Our exclusive investigation found that firefighters suspected that home fires were caused by microwave ovens that were not turned on or not cooking a thing.

So NewsChannel5 conducted its own test with the very same microwave that ignited in the homes. We wondered what would happen if we plugged it in; then we watched as our own cameras videotaped every second. It turned on all by itself and ran for 30 seconds. This happened not once, not twice, but three different times.

We alerted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The government agency quickly announced an active investigation, in the wake of our original report.

In a statement, the CPSC said, "To have spontaneous activation of an appliance could present a safety risk to not just adult users, but to entire families in a home. Anyone who experiences spontaneous activation should contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission immediately and unplug the appliance at its source."

I will have an update to my investigation and the status of any CPSC microwave recalls Thursday at 5 p.m. on NewsChannel5.

If you have any questions or problems with your microwave or any other appliance, contact the CPSC at 800-638-2772.

NewsChannel5 has teamed up with the Scripps network of investigators across the country to look into the possibility of dishwasher fires starting in homes. See how the investigation unfolds in our special newsnet5.com interactive.

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