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Laundry not left to cool
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Fire caused by laundry not being properly cooled

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Fire damage with laundry on the floor

Fire damage with laundry on the floor

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Fire damage

Fire damage

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Fire damage with laundry on the floor

Fire damage with laundry on the floor

How this fire happened

Towards the end of the working day, staff at this commercial laundry had washed and dried clothes and cloths from one of their clients at a pub with a restaurant attached.

Having removed the clean laundry from the tumble dryer, they loaded it into a bin liner and placed it in a plastic laundry basket before leaving for the day.

Shortly after, the occupant of an upstairs flat discovered the fire, alerted the fire service and was fortunately able to escape safely.

Fire investigators ruled out a number of ignition sources, including gas, electricity, friction, smoking and sunlight. On questioning the laundry staff, it became clear that the clean laundry in the bin liner had not been allowed to cool and was the most likely cause.

Cotton laundry such as chefs' whites, aprons, tea towels and cloths are often contaminated with organic cooking oils that can auto-ignite if dried and stored without allowing sufficient time to cool in the tumble dryer.

The effect it had

Safety message

Safety Message - Do.
  • Ensure wash temperatures and detergents are suitable for the optimum removal of oil based contaminants.

  • Allow laundry to complete the cooling cycle in the tumble dryer.

  • Shake out laundry to ventilate before folding or place garments on hangers.

  • Ensure stack or pile is well ventilated.

  • Test your smoke alarm regularly.
Safety Message Don't
  • Remove laundry from the tumble dryer before completing the cooling cycle.
  • Place warm, damp laundry in polythene bags or plastic containers/baskets or in poorly ventilated areas.

  • Leave freshly laundered fabrics stacked overnight.

Further information

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Latest Update :
30 January 2015
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