Apartment fire caused by Dryer lint

Photo courtesy of the Hendricks County Flyer

The Avon Creek Apartment fire just before Christmas was a tragic reminder to me that life is precious. I felt so horrible for those people who lost so much, but thankfully, they all got out safely. Christmas decorations and gifts can be replaced, but life can not.

I was shocked to find out that the fire was caused by dryer lint. The Hendricks County Flyer reported the cause of the fire in mid January. I had always thought that only paranoid people worried about dryer lint fires. I thought it was just a scare tactic used by companies that make money cleaning out those lint traps and dryer vents.

Turns out it is as true as can be and dryer vent fires are a real hazard. The Avon Creek fire caused an estimated $750,000 in damages. When the lint builds up in the vents, and then get heated by the dryer, they can get so hot that they ignite. Because the fire is contained in the vent system, it can go unnoticed until it is too late.

Dryer fires account for an average of 10 deaths and 310 injuries and more than $84.4 million in property damage annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Dryer Safety Tips, from the Hendricks County Flyer:

  • Clean the lint trap before and after drying each load of clothes.
  • Make sure the lint trap is free from rips and tears. Partselect.com has replacements if you need one.
  • Do not leave the dryer running for an extended period of time when you are not home.
  • The interior of the dryer and venting system should be cleaned periodically by qualified service personnel.
  • Do not dry clothing/fabric on which there is anything flammable (alcohol, cooking oils, gasoline, spot removers, dry-cleaning solvents, etc.).
  • Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with rigid or flexible metal venting.
  • Don’t forget to read the manufacturers’ warnings in use and care manuals that accompany new dryers.
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