Self-heating laundry pile starts blaze in Pagham home
A warning has been issued over the use of tumble-dryers and washing machines following two fires in the Bognor Regis area.
Firefighters are reminding householders of some simple safety steps when using electrical appliances such as tumble dryers and washing machines.
It follows two incidents in two days.
In the first incident firefighters were called after a pile of folded washing caught fire after being tumble-dried over the weekend.
A crew from Bognor Regis Fire Station was mobilised at 1.56am on Saturday to reports of a fire in a home on Lion Road in Pagham.
Upon arrival, firefighters found the property was heavily smoked logged, but thanks to a working smoke alarm, the three occupants had been alerted and had been able to escape from the property.
The fire started after the home owner had washed and tumble-dried some towels earlier on in the evening.
These were then stacked and put in a hessian type bag in the hallway.
But in the early hours of the morning, the towels, which had self-heated, began to smoke and caught fire. Fortunately, the homeowner had a working smoke alarm.
Crews removed the towels to fresh air and extinguished them.
In the second incident at 4.10pm on Sunday, firefighters were called to a washing machine fire in a first floor flat in Imperial Mews.
Two appliances from Crawley and a Surrey Fire and Rescue Service crew from Salfords were mobilised. On arrival, firefighters wearing two sets of breathing apparatus extinguished the fire using a hose reel and a CO2 extinguisher.
The fire damaged washing machine was removed from the property. Nobody was injured during the incident, but the property sustained smoke damage which meant the resident needed alternative accommodation for the night.
Simon Foster, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s performance risk and improvement team group manager said: “At this time of year, people are using their tumble dryers far more than at other times of the year.
“When taking clothes out of the tumble dryer, make sure you wait for laundry to cool down before putting it away. Oil residue and oxygenating chemicals from stain removing detergents can create a chemical reaction causing items like tea towels to self-heat, smoulder and could catch fire.
“Once clothes have cooled down, make sure you store them in a well-ventilated area.”
The fire service is reminding people of the following safety tips when using electrical appliances:
• Look out for product recall notices.
• Register your appliance - appliances up to 12 years old can be registered on the Register My Appliance website.
• Don’t run appliances such as tumble dryers, washing machines or dishwashers overnight or when you are out.
• Always read the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Have your appliance serviced by a qualified engineer.
• Do not put rags or materials into a tumble dryer if they have been used to soak up flammable liquids.
You can find out more about home fire safety by visiting the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service website here: www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/west-sussex-fire-and-rescue-service/home-fire-safety/electrical-and-heating-appliance-safety-advice