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Dryer Fires

Fire and Life Safety Educator III

Maine Fire Training and Education

Southern Maine Community College


Drying clothes in a clothes dryer is something almost everyone does. Just drop them in, turn the dryer on, and then off you go to do something else. How many of us turn the dryer on and leave home for a while? This practice is very dangerous. January 20, 2005 in Yarmouth, Maine the residents of 41 Woodbury Street left to go to work, but prior to going they decided to dry their clothing. When they returned at 5:45 PM they would encounter heavy smoke and flame coming from the basement. The fire department was called but the fire had a head start and was difficult to put out, causing extensive damage to the home. The cause of the fire would be determined to be the clothes dryer catching on fire.


Research by the National Fire Protection Association found that between the years 1994 and 1998, clothes dryers accounted for a significant portion of appliance fires. In fact clothes dryer’s fires caused and average of 14,800 home fires, more than 300 injuries and 16 deaths per year.


The following safety tips should prove helpful:


1.     Installation and service of electric dryers, as well as gas-powered dryers, should be based on manufacturer’s recommendations. Dryers should be inspected regularly to make sure the connections and gas line are intact.

2.     Don’t ever leave home with the dryer on!

3.     Don’t connect a dryer to an outlet that is not suitable for the dryer.

4.     Remove lint after every dryer cycle. Also remove it from around the drum. It is important to have the lint filter in place. Never operate the dryer without it.

5.     Make sure the dryer vent is not restricted (crimped), and that airflow easily passes through. During the winter months check the outside connection for ice and snow that could easily interrupt the flow of air.


It doesn’t take much time to keep your dryer in working order and safe. A home fire can be devastating, as the residents of the Yarmouth home found out. Dryer fire can be easily preventable if you just take the time to check your appliance.