'Disastrous': The common household item from Aldi blamed for causing fierce blaze

A NSW man says it’s lucky homes weren’t lost when a new power board he purchased from Aldi unexpectedly burst into flames.

Kayne Happ, 44, was working in one of his backyard work sheds at Gwynneville in Wollongong in December last year when his radio suddenly went off.

“I thought ‘oh, that’s strange’ and I’ve gone outside and seen flames coming out the top of my other shed,” he recalled to Yahoo News Australia.

He quickly picked up a nearby towel but soon realised it was no match for the towering blaze.

He then grabbed his hose and began tackling the fire that was now growing in size.

“I was just trying to save what I could,” he said.

A frantic and distressed Mr Happ battled the fire over several minutes, eventually managing to bring the fire under control and extinguish all of the flames.

Pictured is the burnt-out power board from Aldi which burst into flames.
The burnt-out power board that caused the fire. Source: Kayne Happ

On inspection, Mr Happ claims the cause of the fire was a new power board he’d purchased from Aldi.

And while he managed to save the shed’s structure, thousands of dollars worth of belongings inside were completely ruined.

A laptop, printer, external hard drive, camera, suitcases, tents and climbing gear were all destroyed. He estimates their value at nearly $5000.

Mr Happ said he and his neighbours were extremely fortunate he was there, otherwise the damage caused could have been far more devastating.

Pictured is a before and after of a bookshelf below where the power board was positioned inside Mr Happ's work shed in Wollongong.
A before and after photo of a bookshelf below where the power board was positioned inside Mr Happ's work shed. Source: Kayne Happ
Pictured is the work shed where the fire broke out at Mr Happ's Wollongong home.
The work shed room where the fire broke out. Source: Kayne Happ

“If I wasn’t here it could have been disastrous,” he said.

“If I had waited for the fire brigade, [the shed] would have been gone. And probably the neighbour’s house too.”

He said if it had still been burning minutes later, the fire would have most likely reached his property, 10 to 15 metres away.

Aldi offers refund but not liable for damages, it says

Mr Happ contacted Aldi about the power board, informing them of the fire and told them of the damage caused.

In a written letter, the supermarket apologised to Mr Happ for the incident and that it had been “documented and forwarded to the appropriate departments”.

Aldi also noted all of their products “are tested and must meet stringent quality standards prior to being sold”.

Pictured is Mr Happ's burnt laptop and printer.
Mr Happ's burnt laptop computer and printer. Source: Kayne Happ

He was offered a full refund for the product, the Workzone Wall Mounted Power board, which cost $39.99.

However when speaking on the phone to a customer service representative, he claims he was told the supermarket wasn’t liable for the damage caused to his property because the power board was used in an outside environment.

“It’s a worker’s power board, it’s meant to be used in places like work sheds, that’s what they’re for,” Mr Happ told Yahoo News Australia.

He also noted there was no chance it was overloaded with only three of the six power sockets in use at the time of the fire.

While annoyed with the way his claim was handled and the lack of compensation he received from the supermarket, Mr Happ said he was more concerned about the threat the power board posed to other customers.

“I really hope other people out there with the power board know about this. They might not be so lucky,” he said.

Aldi says fire was not caused by power board

However an Aldi spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia in a statement that Mr Happ’s power board went through extensive testing and believe the product in question wasn’t the cause of the fire.

“We have completed a thorough investigation of the complaint made by the customer, which confirmed that the fire was not started as a result of the power board bought at ALDI,” the spokesperson said.

“This is an isolated incident with no other reports to our customer service department regarding a similar issue.”

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