Scenes From a Dryer Fire
As reported in a recent Topical Fire Report Series:
From 2008 to 2010 Fire departments reported annual average property loss due to Clothes dryer fires at 35 million dollars.
The Hows and Whys of a Clothes Dryer Fire
A clothes dryer works by forcing hot air through a turning drum. Wet clothes placed in the drum are then dried by moving hot air. It is possible for a full load of wet clothes to contain as much as one and a half gallons of water. Lint, consisting mostly of small ﬁbers from the clothes and debris in or on the clothes, is created from the clothes as the clothes tumble in the drum. While much of the lint is trapped by the dryer’s ﬁlter, lint is also carried through the vent system along with moist air. Lint is a highly combustible material that can accumulate both in the dryer and in the dryer vent. Accumulated lint leads to reduced airﬂow and can pose a potential ﬁre hazard.
In addition to the accumulation of lint, blockage in dryer exhaust vents also can occur from the nests of small birds or other animals or from damages to the venting system itself. A compromised vent will not exhaust properly to the outside. As a result, overheating may occur and a ﬁre may ensue.*
Johnny invited me to this walk through; it was my first dryer fire. He has been to so many fire scenes (unfortunately) that he just got down to the business at hand; packing out, testing and cleaning: electronics restoration. I stumbled around in a shock and awe state, first hit by the emotional impact from all the personal belongings strewn amongst the fire and water damage; then at what had been the visibly violent blast that raged from the laundry area, and finally the realization that the extent and most of the restoration required was a result of extinguishing the fire. In this case, a picture is more than a thousand words.
To know more about dryer fire prevention and lint, check out The Good, the Bad, the Lint!
*As reported in the Topical Fire Report Series Volume 13, Issue 7/August 2012
U.S. Department of Homeland Security • U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Data Center • Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727 www.usfa.fema.govjstatisticsj