Consumer Correspondent's Report on Recalled Heaters

ByABC News via logo
January 28, 2003, 4:37 PM

Jan. 28 -- As an arctic blast continues to freeze much of the country, keep this in mind: The month with the most fire-related home deaths is usually January, followed closely by December and February.

Good Morning America's Consumer Correspondent Greg Hunter reported on electric heaters that have been recalled.

The following is an uncorrected, unedited transcript of that report.

ABCNEWS' GREG HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) The Cadet Company says it has successfully completed a recall of

nearly 2 million electric wall heaters, reassuring news after a series of horrible fires.

Yakima County, Washington, 1996, four children die in a fire. Their heartbroken parents say it was caused by a Cadet heater. Seattle, 1997, two more little girls die in an apartment fire. Again, a Cadet heater is blamed.

When the Consumer Product Safety Commission says a product is defective, many companies voluntarily do a recall, not Cadet. And when the government sued in 1999, what did Cadet do? It declared bankruptcy. Protected by Chapter 11, the company and the CPSC settled with an unusual recall.

Recalls routinely require manufacturers to replace defective products or pay for repairs. Cadet didn't pay a dime for either.

What's more, the company, located near Portland, Oregon, was allowed to make a small profit selling replacement parts related to the recall. And while most recalls go on indefinitely, the limited Cadet recall ended after two years, in February of 2002.

And that might have been the end of a tragic story. Except for what happened here at this house in Alexandria, Virginia, in September of2002.


HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) Another fire blamed on a recalled Cadet heater, and 4-year-old Declan Fife is dead. In spite of the fact that Cadet says it replaced nearly a half a million heaters, it turns out as many as 400,000 more remain unaccounted for. Darrell Hay is a home inspector in Seattle.