James Island man blames Keurig coffee maker for kitchen fire

A James Island man said this was what was left of his Keurig machine after he made a cup one morning. (WCIV)

For nearly 44 years, the Hornsby family has lived in a two story home on James Island.

"I think we were very lucky," said Tommy Hornsby. "Your house is probably the most valued asset that you have."

However, 79-year-old Tommy says he almost lost it.

"I am glad we are here talking," he smiled.

Tommy has renewed relief. That's because his morning routine abruptly changed one January morning.

"The flame was hitting right here," Tommy said as he pointed to his charred kitchen cabinet.

There's not much left of his Keurig coffee maker. It's melted and warped. The machine was a Christmas present from his wife, three years ago.

"I enjoyed it. It was easy. Just one cup usually satisfies me if it is strong enough," he explained.

Tommy says the machine was on and had finished brewing when it caught fire.

"I started watching television with my back to the coffee maker and the dog was barking. I turned around to ask the dog to be quiet, but she was barking at the fire," he said. "The flames were up to the ceiling."

Tommy says his dog's protectiveness definitely saved the situation from being much worse. He says the insurance adjuster determined the damage to be more than $12,000.

He said, "I would like for at least for Keurig to reimburse me for the deductible for the insurance. I think it is some of their responsibility. If I did not have the Keurig coffee pot, we wouldn't have this damage."

ABC News 4 reached out to Keurig. They sent us a statement confirming they've been in touch with Tommy. They've requested he mail the K-60 brewer to them for a full evaluation.

Tommy says the machine has already been examined by a different company.

A fire investigator recommended by Tommy's insurance company confirmed the machine was not under a recall. The letter says, "The cause of the fire cannot be determined from the received evidence. The burn patterns indicate that it was caused by an external source of heat."

Tommy disagrees. "I don't see where an external source could have caused the source. There is just no way an external source could have caused it," he said.

Tommy says the only other external source is his oven. It was not damaged. Also, the outlet the coffee machine was plugged into was not damaged.

In 2014, 6.6 million mini brewing systems were recalled by Keurig in 2014 after reported water burns.

While coffeemaker fires are rare, they happen. The Consumer Product Safety Commission tells ABC News that 300 consumers reported fires from various coffee-makers 4 in the last five years. We don't know all of the brands because CPSC redacts that information.

Tommy simply wants his story to be a lesson to coffee lovers. He says a simple action can possibly save your home and your life.

"When they get through using it, just unplug it. Even though this may not be major, it could have been very major," said Tommy. It's kind of a public information type that we need to share."

ABC News 4 asked Keurig about Tommy's advice. They say, "The only time we suggest unplugging our brewers is for cleaning or maintenance.".

Tommy hasn't decided if he will send the machine back to Keurig for evaluation.

Keurig's Statement:

"In the rare instance when a consumer contacts us with an issue, we request the brewer be returned so that we can conduct a full evaluation. Our Consumer Care team has confirmed they have been in touch with Mr. Hornsby to arrange to get this coffee maker back for evaluation.

At Keurig, the safety and satisfaction of our consumers is our top priority. We design our products with these values in mind and Keurig brewers are manufactured to include thermal protection mechanisms, among a number of safety features. These thermal sensors are designed to cut power to the brewer in the event of a malfunction."

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