N.C. firefighters issue warning after hot, smouldering laundry catches fire

“It was a new one to us,” officials from the Burlington FD said after a synthetic-material jacket overheated and ignited a pile of clothes on a bed


By Alison Cutler
The Charlotte Observer

BURLINGTON, N.C. — After a North Carolina fire department was called to a house fire on Nov. 29, officials said they had never seen anything like it.

“It was a new one to us,” the Burlington Fire Department told WGHP.

A pile of clothes became so hot in the dryer that when they were placed on the bed, the clothes “smoldered subsequently catching other clothing articles and furniture on fire,” according to the fire department.
A pile of clothes became so hot in the dryer that when they were placed on the bed, the clothes “smoldered subsequently catching other clothing articles and furniture on fire,” according to the fire department. (Photo/Getty)

Homeowner Anthony Mebane said he was stunned to learn what caused the fire, too, he told WFMY.

“Nothing ever happened to me in that capacity, you know. ... Initially when I first heard about it, I didn’t believe it,” Mebane told WFMY.

The source of the fire? A pile of laundry ignited while sitting on Mebane’s bed, according to the Burlington Fire Department.

Officials got the call of a fire at a Burlington home around 12:20 a.m. on Nov. 29, according to a news release from the fire department. When firefighters arrived, Mebane was at work.

Firefighters found a fire that ignited in a bedroom and extinguished it in about 15 minutes, according to the release.

Mebane had dried his laundry in the dryer, but the fire didn’t start until the clothes were already removed, according to the release. The pile of clothes became so hot in the dryer that when they were placed on the bed, the clothes “smoldered subsequently catching other clothing articles and furniture on fire,” according to the release.

The fire caused about $30,000 in damages, according to the fire department.

There was a synthetic material jacket in the laundry that overheated so much it ignited on the bed in the middle of the night, WFMY reported.

While the source was unusual, the U.S. Fire Administration offers tips for general laundry safety to avoid fire:

  • Don’t use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
  • Don’t overload the dryer.
  • Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
  • Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
  • Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers’ instructions state “dry away from heat.”
  • Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers’ instructions allow).
  • Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
  • Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.

Burlington is about 60 miles northwest of Raleigh.

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