When we think of everyday appliances that start house fires, most of us think of faulty space heaters or unattended stove tops. But clothes dryers? Columbia Fire Battalion Chief Brad Frazier says it’s more common than you think. Firefighters extinguished a dryer fire in central Columbia on Wednesday, at a former councilwoman’s home. Almeta Crayton said she smelled something burning from the kitchen Wednesday morning around 8:30A.M. She asked her son what it was, and he said he didn’t know, but the dryer is on. Within minutes, the smell got stronger and smoke was coming out of her kitchen, according to Crayton. She said her son tried to fight the flames inside the dryer, but she told him to keep the dryer door shut in fear of letting air mix with the fire and making things worse. She then called 911.Frazier said the fire is still under investigation Wednesday night, but it most likely started from lint buildup, which is the #1 reason fires start in dryers. If lint gets within two inches to the dryer vent, the part that spews out hot air, then it can ignite, said Frazier. “You need to clean the filter every time you use it,” said Frazier, who also said dryers need to be inspected every year. An unusually hot dryer, and one that takes more than one cycle to dry your clothes are also signs of obstructed ducts or clogged filters, where lint tends to buildup. Further more, Frazier urges people not to run dryers while they sleep or when they leave their homes. Dryer fires spread very quickly and the embers can shoot to the vent at a rate of 40 MPH and get into the walls, said Frazier. The latest federal report available from the US Fire Administration, that’s under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports an estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in homes in the U.S. every year. The data is based on information from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) from 2008-2010.Columbia Fire did not have local numbers of dryer fire statistics available as of this report. No one was reportedly injured in this fire. Crayton says she’s alright, she just lost a dryer but her home is fine.
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