Clothes dryer sets home afire in Hazelwood

Although the damage from this blaze was kept to a minimum, find out what you can learn from this fire – that could prevent your home from possibly burning down …

Not knowing how large the fire had grown, this firefighter pulls a hose toward the house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A family’s evening in the Hazelwood Neighborhood was winding down as they finished up some laundry, about 8:40 p.m. on April 11. That was when a fire broke out in their laundry room.

“We were called to a home on NE 143rd Avenue, on the report of a dryer fire that was extending up the wall,” Portland Fire & Rescue (PR&R) Battalion Chief 3, Richard Stenhouse, told us at the scene. “Crews from Stations 7, 30, and 71 responded, conducted a search of the premises, and confirmed that all of the residents were out of the structure.”

Because they arrived promptly, firefighters quickly extinguished the fire.

The flames were more than firefighters could put out with handheld fire extinguishers, so crews stretched hose lines from their rigs and promptly extinguished the fire before it could become more serious. “We have a little overhaul (taking out embers and ashes) to do. No one was injured.”

PF&R’s spokesman, Lt. Allen Oswalt, confirmed that the home’s clothes dryer started the fire.

“There were some combustibles stacked on the dryer,” Oswalt said. “These cloth absorbent pads fell behind the dryer, limiting the airflow to the dryer – it made heat build up to the point of starting a fire.”

Fortunately, the occupants were home; damage was listed as $1,000, Oswalt reported.

Illuminated by the flashing red strobes on the fire truck, firefighters walk back to their truck.

“Even though we use clothes dryers every week, we often forget that these appliances generate a lot of heat,” Oswalt reminded, and gave these fire safety tips:

  • Make sure there is good airflow around your dryer.
  • Check to see that the vents are clear and open.
  • Clean the “lint trap” with every load, to make sure there isn’t a build-up.
  • Don’t load your dryer, set it running, and leave home – say on-site, and stay alert.
  • Do preventative maintenance at least once a year: Unplug the dryer, open the back, and thoroughly vacuum it – as well as the exhaust hose.

“Dryers are a great modern convenience,” Oswalt concluded. “Just take care to make sure you operate it safely.”

With the overhaul done, one firefighter takes out a section of hose line; another shuts down the ventilation blower.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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