Overheated cooking oil caused Chichester Travelodge fire

Fire at Chichester city centre Travelodge PICTURE BY EDDIE MITCHELL
Fire at Chichester city centre Travelodge PICTURE BY EDDIE MITCHELL
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COOKING oil overheating in a tumble dryer was the cause of a restaurant fire that spread to a hotel.

More than 50 firefighters tackled last Monday’s blaze (April 13) at the Chichester Travelodge, in Chapel Street, after flames spread from nearby Belle Isle.

The circumstances of this fire are unusual, but certainly not unheard of, we’ve attended fires started in this way before

Mark Hayter, fire investigation officer

Last week, firefighters said ‘oily rags’ in a tumble dryer caused the fire.

They have now given more detail, saying investigations showed rapeseed oil residue on tea towels and linen was likely to have caused them 
to ‘self ignite’ inside the tumble dryer.

Fire investigation officer Mark Hayter said: “The circumstances of this fire are unusual, but certainly not unheard of, we’ve attended fires started in this way before.

“It happens when vegetable and animal-fat based oils are not fully washed out of laundry. If materials with oil residue are heated and then left in a tumble dryer, or are folded into piles or stacks before they are cool, there is a risk of self-combustion.”

He urged businesses to reduce this risk of fire. “It is really important to wash materials that have absorbed oil at a high temperature and to use the right detergent,” he said, adding the dryer should be left to complete its cycle and laundry should not be stacked when it was hot.