Fire Chief Richard Curtis is using an easy-prevented dryer lint fire at a home to demonstrate the ultimate cost to both the homeowner and city fire and paramedics personnel.
According to a news release, shortly after 2 pm Wednesday, the Anacortes Fire Department was dispatched to a fire in a private residence, a duplex, in the 1500 block of Burrows Court. The renter, Ana Avila, was home at the time of the fire and heard a crackling sound from the laundry room and went to investigate.
Ms. Avila discovered flames coming from around the dryer which was operating at the time. She notified the owner who lives next door and 911 was called. The owner moved the dryer away from the wall and used water from a garden hose to extinguish the fire.
Anacortes Police arrived first to find that the owner had extinguished the fire. Firefighters arrived and removed the dryer from the laundry room which was located just adjacent to the garage. The fire was completely extinguished and the room was ventilated.
Flames caused cosmetic damage to the laundry room walls. The dryer was completely damaged by the fire. A significant amount of lint had accumulated beyond the filter, around the drum, and had been exposed to radiant heat from the dryer heating element, causing the fire.
Skagit County Assessor records show that the duplex structure is valued $266,000, with contents valued a $66,500. The estimated loss to structure is $2,000 dollars and the contents at $500 dollars. The owner sustained a second degree burn to his hand while trying to move the dryer away from the wall. Paramedics bandaged his hand and advised him to receive follow-up treatment by a doctor.
The Anacortes Fire Department responded initially with 9 Firefighters and 5 apparatus. During the same 20 minute period we were dispatched to 2 medical emergencies, an automatic fire alarm, and an emergency transfer from Island Hospital to another medical facility. Anacortes Firefighter/Paramedic personnel were diverted and mutual aid response from Central Valley Ambulance Authority was received to manage the other emergencies. A total of 6 firefighters arrived at the dryer fire.
According to statistics from the United States Fire Administration, an estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Clothes dryer fire incidence in residential buildings is higher during the fall and winter months, peaking in January. Failure to clean (34 percent) was the leading factor contributing to the ignition of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings. 54 percent of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings were confined to the dryer, with the balance burning within the residence.
The Anacortes Fire Department reminds citizens to clean the lint filter after each use, and that if the dryer does not operate properly immediately contact a qualified repair person.
Photo courtesy Anacortes Fire Chief Richard Curtis.