The fire that ripped through a Mitchell home Tuesday night is being blamed on the clothes dryer. This comes after the Friday fire, also in Mitchell, that claimed the life of 3-year-old Jaxon Sehnert. That fire also started in the laundry room.
According to the US Fire Administration, clothes dryer fires account for more than 15,000 structure fires each year. Those fires are also responsible for more than 400 injuries and 15 deaths on average in the United States. But firefighters say the solution to the problem is a simple one.
In the past week several fires have sparked across South Dakota. A few of those started in a similar location, the laundry room.
"We do laundry year round it's not uncommon for these to happen and the easiest way to prevent them is by having a good maintenance routine." Said Fire Marshal Dean Lanier with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.
Lanier says that routine starts with cleaning out the dryer's lint trap after every single use. But lint can still sneak past the trap. What many people forget about is the vent pipe behind it.
"You can take these wire brushes and clean not only the area behind the vent catch but you can disconnect the dryer and open up the vent pipe itself and use this to clean the vent pipe all the way up." Said Lanier.
A small piece of lint quickly catches fire and can continue to burn even with the South Dakota wind blowing. Lanier says it doesn't even take an open flame to spark a dryer fire.
"That lint is very combustible it will burn readily all it needs is the heat from the dryer and if it gets enough restricted airflow in the vent it will build up and build up and eventually you'll get a fire going." Said Lanier.
A simple wire brush can quickly clean the vent pipe but if your pipes are too long, Lanier says you should have a professional clean it once a year. A small one-time fee could prevent you from paying the ultimate price.
"Once a year to come out and clean that vent out will save you a lot of heartache and heartburn from having a fire result from lint trapped in a vent." Said Lanier.
The US Fire Administration reports that nearly half of all dryer fires are due to the owners failure to keep the lint trap clean. The other half resulted from either a mechanical or electrical malfunction. But either way, keeping dryers clean could prevent thousands of fires each year.
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