A consumer watchdog has called for Government action following an "alarming" number of fires from faulty kitchen appliances.

A Which? investigation said faults ranging from exploding toasters to smoking kettles were causing thousands of house fires a year and serious damage to homes.

Almost 6,000 appliances or their electrical leads caught fire due to faults in 2010/11, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Freedom of Information requests to fire services across the country revealed that it was not necessarily the obvious appliances, like ovens, that consumers should worry about.

Tumble dryers and washing machines were more likely to catch fire due to faults, with one dishwasher fire causing more than £86,000 worth of damage, the consumer group said.

While some fire brigades already collected data on the makes and models of appliances that have caused fires, this was not a statutory requirement and the information was not readily available to the public, Which? said.

It has called on the Government to take steps to ensure better information and protection for consumers.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "We want the Government to collect and analyse information on house fires caused by faulty appliances, by brand.

"Greater transparency would alert manufacturers to products that are continually at fault and give consumers greater protection against faulty appliances so they can prevent damage to their homes."