Duluth Deputy Fire Marshal Jonathan Otis has found 14 recalled dehumidifiers during inspections around the city in the past four months.
Now he's trying to prevent potential fires by drawing more attention to the fact that a long list of dehumidifiers were recalled in 2013.
"To find that many units in different types of buildings was a wake-up call to me that we need to be telling people about it," Otis said.
The only dehumidifier fire the Duluth Fire Department has investigated was in 2017 at the Electric Fetus. Statewide, Otis said there have been hundreds of fire investigations on the recalled units.
"There's a company called Gree that manufactures the internal part of these dehumidifiers for a number of different manufacturers," Otis said.
In other words, Gree makes the dehumidifiers and then each brand puts their own distinct shell over them. The brand names he's seen the most around the city include Soleus Air, GE and Frigidaire.
Otis said he started actively checking dehumidifiers while on inspection last fall after attending a conference for fire investigators where they discussed dehumidifier recalls.
"Normally, I don't think inspectors would find them because if it's plugged into a wall, it's not something you really think about," Otis said. "When I see one, I check on it and then I tell them to start the process."
The units were pulled from the market after they were found to overheat, smoke and catch fire.
While none of the recalled dehumidifiers are sold at stores anymore, Otis said there's still a chance they could be sold secondhand and encourages people to verify the brand, make and model of their dehumidifier to ensure it is safe.
A list of the nearly 100 recalled dehumidifiers can be found on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website.
In 2016, the CSPC announced that more than 450 dehumidifier fires had been reported, resulting in more than $19 million in property damage. Read more at www.cpsc.gov/recalls; search "Gree Dehumidifier."