Dryer Fire - Central County Fire & Rescue

Dryer Fire

A backup of lint in the dryer is believed to be what caused a recent fire at the Vanderbilt Apartments. This type of fire is relatively common, with the leading cause of dryer fires being a lack of cleaning.

“The easiest thing you can do to prevent this type of fire is clean the lint filter or screen before every load of laundry,” explains CCFR Chief Russ Mason. It is also important to clean the dryer vent and duct work every few months.

 “To find out if your dryer duct work is clogged check the outdoor dryer vent while the dryer is running. If you do not feel any air escaping the vent may be blocked and it is critically important to check and clean the duct work,” says Mason. “Another sign of blockage is if your clothes are still damp at the end of a cycle, or if the clothes seem to be taking longer than normal to dry.”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offer a number of tips to make sure your dryer is safe.

Tips from NFPA:

  • Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
  • Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
  • Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
  • Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
  • Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
  • Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
  • Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
  • Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.
  • Dryers should be properly grounded.
  • Check the outdoor vent flap to make sure it is not covered by snow.
  • Keep the area around your dryer clear of things that can burn, like boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing, etc.
  • Clothes that have come in contact with flammable substances, like gasoline, paint thinner, or similar solvents should be laid outside to dry, then can be washed and dried as usual.

Additional Resources

Click here to download a PDF of tips from the CPSC.

Click here to see coverage and photos of the Vanderbilt Apartment fire from St. Peters Patch.