Safety experts have issued a stark warning that lives may be at risk in homes and businesses, after a fault was found in a model of fridge freezer. The fault poses a serious fire risk, and it is thought that up to half a million fridge freezers could be affected.

The faulty product manufactured by Beko allows water into the defrost timer, which can lead to an electrical malfunction resulting in plastic components and highly flammable insulation inside the appliance catching fire. Fire chiefs are now urging people to check if they own the faulty models which were made between January 2000 and October 2006.

Over the last three years fire investigators from London Fire Brigade have been working to establish a link between the faulty defroster switch and a series of house fires. In the capital alone, there are believed to have been 20 fires involving the fridge freezer since 2008. These fires have resulted in 15 injuries and 1 death.

Father died in Beko fridge freezer fire

Santosh Benjamin-Muthiah's brain was starved of vital oxygen when he inhaled smoke from a fire caused by a faulty Beko fridge freezer, in his home in Harrow.

Mr Benjamin-Muthiah spent 3 days in intensive care, but sadly died on the 15th November 2010. His wife and two daughters who were also present at the time of the fire survived.

The majority of fire-related deaths are caused by inhalation of toxic gases produced by fires. Flames and burns only account for a relatively small percentage of fire related deaths and injuries.

London Fire Brigade's Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Regulation, Steve Turk, said: “Any fire can be lethal but the London Fire Brigade is particularly concerned about this because fires involving any sort of fridge freezer develop rapidly and produce an enormous amount of toxic smoke”.