In just one week, Springfield Firefighters have responded to two fires caused by improperly maintained clothes dryers, causing a total of $45,000 in damage. Both fires were caused by the build-up of lint, a common cause of residential fires across the nation.

A clothes dryer works by forcing hot air through a turning drum. Wet clothes placed in the drum are then dried by moving hot air. Lint is created from clothes as they tumble in the drum. While much of the lint is trapped by the dryer’s filter, lint is also carried through the vent system. Lint is highly combustible and can accumulate in both the dryer and dryer vent. Accumulated lint leads to reduced airflow and can cause a fire hazard.

The United States Fire Administration recommends you follow these tips to prevent dryer fires:
– Have your clothes dryer installed by qualified personnel.- Clean the lint filter before and after each cycle, including the back of the dryer.
– Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged, crushed or restricted.- Check periodically to make sure nests of small animals and insects are not blocking the outside vent.
– Keep the area around the clothes dryer free of items that can burn.

Across the nation, there are an estimated of 2,900 clothes dryer fires every year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property loss. Clothes dryer fires are more common in the fall and winter months and failure to clean was the leading factor contributing to the ignition of clothes dryer fires, at 34%.

For more tips and information on preventing dryer fires, visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v13i7.pdf.

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For more information, contact: Cara Erwin, Fire and Life Safety Educator 417-864-1699 (office), cerwin@springfieldmo.gov.

USFA information on clothes dryer fires