By Joy Bergmann
As he stood across the street from his apartment building at 48 W. 73rd Street, Rafe Evans held up his phone to show WSR his recent messages. “That’s the email you never want to see: ‘There’s a fire in your apartment.'”
Evans and his dog had not been at home in their second-floor unit when a fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon. A video posted on the Citizen app showed smoke pouring from the unit, sitting right above a Starbucks on the southeast corner of 73rd and Columbus.
A young woman who lives down the hall from Evans was among the first to notice something amiss. “I heard an alarm going off and smelled something like burning rubber,” she told WSR at the scene. “I called 911, knocked on my neighbor’s door and we ran outside together.”
Another resident of the building, a young woman from the fourth floor, waited worriedly on the 73rd Street sidewalk, gazing up at the building and the multiple FDNY units crowding the intersection. “I just came back and it’s like this. My dog is inside. I want to go get her.”
Chief White from FDNY’s 10th Battalion told WSR there were no injuries reported in the incident and the blaze was contained to the one unit. “It was a small fire in the kitchen. It appears to have started from a faulty dishwasher,” Chief White said.
Evans said he put in a new dishwasher about nine months ago and had just repainted the apartment. Despite the mess he was about to confront, he seemed to be taking the situation with equanimity. “It’s just inconvenient,” he said.
Was the woman’s dog ok?
Now our dishwashers can catch fire? How many of us turn on the dishwasher and then leave the apartment for the day? One more thing to keep me awake at night.
A few years ago I was contacted by Bosch, my dishwasher manufacturer, to let me know that there’s some wiring that potentially might cause fire and needs to be replaced. The service provider came, took a look at the dishwasher and said that he has no idea what might be wrong. I don’t leave it running at night any longer.
Only conjecture but probably had some person who just calls themselves an “electrician” install it without running a dedicated line to that outlet. Dishwashers use a lot of power to heat the water and shouldn’t be on a shared circuit with your fridge, toaster, microwave or any other power hungry appliance.
Unless the wiring was upgraded several times since the building was built in the 1890’s the wiring might not support that kind of load.
I am curious about the dog too.
Regarding dishwashers and fires… yes, ANY device that uses electricity can potentially cause a fire. If there is a short circuit caused by improper installation, a leak, rodents chewing, and/or deteriorating components… these can all lead to fires. Unlikely if devices are correctly installed, but possible.
I’m pretty sure “now our dishwashers can catch fire?” is not “a thing”. This was probably a fluke occurrence caused by a mistake made during installation. Nothing to freak out about, IMO.
People are okay, hopefully the god is okay, and most important, hopefully we can still get our overpriced fancy drinks okay!
Leave god out of it…
I lost a dishwasher to mice. They eat the insulation off the wiring. Tasty, I guess. Plumber told us we now owned a fire hazard—get rid of it. Thank goodness it stopped working before it began smoldering.
I was shocked once, to find that my dishwasher was installed using lamp wire to power it. This may be a common shortcut for many installers but very unsafe for the homeowner. Amperage is high on a dishwasher and the wire that powers them must be capable of handling the heat.
Our dishwasher once started smoking like crazy. Luckily we were home and able to stop it before a fire started. Apparently what happened in our case is that the rubber inside had dried up. Now we have a new dishwasher and we make sure to run it through a quick cycle every week or two if we are not using the dishwasher. During Covid we have not had guests and so we rarely use the dishwasher just for us. Scared to think what might have happened if we had not been home.