Hot laundry from your dryer can catch fire. Here’s how
‘As the temperature rises the chemical reactions proceed faster and pretty soon you have a fire’
A forensic chemist from Texas says fires caused by hot laundry removed from dryers are more common than people think. This comes after two recent incidents involving hot laundry recently removed from dryers.
Over the weekend, a fire inspector ruled a fire in Charlottetown was likely caused by hot clothing removed from a dryer and placed on a sofa, and earlier this week an Island massage therapist reported clean laundry she’d placed in a bag started to smoulder.
Andrew Armstrong, senior vice-president of Armstrong Forensic Laboratories, said one of the reasons fires start this way could be because of people taking laundry out before the dryer’s cool-down cycle has finished.
“They remove the clothing that may or may not have vegetable oil present and stack it up while it’s very hot,” Armstrong said.
“As it is hot, it retains the heat.”
The polyunsaturated fatty acids present in vegetable oil can become very reactive if they are left on items and put in the dryer, Armstrong said.
I ran with my bag to the bathtub, dumped it and started water on top of it with the shower.
— Kim Outhouse
Because of the retained heat, he said, the temperature can continue to rise.
“As the temperature rises, the chemical reactions proceed faster and pretty soon you have a fire or a smouldering condition, which can burst into open flame.”
Armstrong is urging people to let the dryer finish its cycle before removing anything.
“If you do not allow that cooling process to occur, you get in a hurry, you’re going to get into a problem,” he said.
‘Extremely strong smell of fire’
Kim Outhouse, a massage therapist in Souris, P.E.I., says she recently woke up to the smell of smoke.
After trying to locate the source of the smell, including checking various electrical outlets and appliances like her dryer, she noticed some sheets she’d placed in her laundry bag had hot, brown and black spots.
“There was more and more brown until I got to black and smoke and extremely strong smell of fire,” she said.
“I ran with my bag to the bathtub, dumped it and started water on top of it with the shower.”
Outhouse said she’d transferred her sheets into the laundry bag as soon as they came out of the dryer.