Dryer fire burned Battleford house

A dryer was the source of a recent Battleford house fire, according to Fire Chief Larry Gabruch, who has some words of advice to other homeowners.

In the case of Monday’s house fire, the occupants had put some rags with household cleaning products and oil used for hardwood floors into a washing machine, and then put those rags in the dryer. The dryer was still running when they left the house.

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Their dryer had a long vent and wasn’t able to exhaust air properly, said Gabruch. In this case, he said, the dryer continued to run at high heat, and the vapours from the rags led to fire.

“When you’re not able to properly exhaust that air, [a] sensor continues to read that [the load] is wet, even though it’s not completely wet,” Gabruch said.

The dryer element continued to operate at a high temperature, due in part to a long dryer vent.

“[Dryer vents] shouldn’t normally be further than eight feet,” Gabruch said, while the one in question “was much further than that.”

A vent that is too long, Gabruch said, “creates a pressure drop,” and acts almost like a barrier.

“The dryer cannot properly exhaust the air as [the air] is heating,” Gabruch said.

Gabruch recommended rags with cleaning products or hydrocarbons on them should be disposed of, since washing machines “do not clean things absolutely.”

Gabruch added to make sure the dryer exhaust ducts are not excessive in length and to minimize any elbows or corners. A 90-degree corner, Gabruch said, can create a 50 per cent pressure drop.

Lint build-up can also be a problem with dryers, and Gabruch said to check below the area where the lint screen is re-inserted so as to not push down accumulated lint.

The most important point, Gabruch said, is “don’t assume because you washed something that has chemicals on it that they’re all gone.”

The rags, the dryer vent and the occupants not being home, Gabruch said, created “kind of a perfect storm.”



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