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Tumble dryer fire caused by tea towel splattered with cooking oil

A photograph shows a white tea towel on the inside of a tumble dryer

A tea towel with cooking oil on it was determined to be the cause of a tumble dryer fire in Holcot yesterday afternoon (May 9).

Although such incidents are rare, tea towels and cloths can combust when the oil and fat residue on them is ignited due to the heat in the tumble dryer.

Tea towels or other similar purpose cloths should always be washed on a hot wash (we would recommend 60 degrees) if they may have been in contact with oil residue. If they have been washed on too cold a temperature, this can leave behind the oil residue.

Crews from Moulton and Brixworth were shortly on the scene after receiving the call just before 10pm but found that the fire was out on arrival. They removed the damaged tumble dryer from the property and dampened it down using a hose reel jet and monitored the temperature using a thermal imaging camera.

One of the homeowners suffered from smoke inhalation and was given oxygen therapy by the crews. They were then able to be taken to Northampton General Hospital in their own vehicle, which was escorted to the hospital by the Brixworth crew to ensure they arrived safely. Once there, they were left in the care of nursing staff.

It is well worth remembering these safety tips for the safe use of tumble dryers:

  • Do not put rags or materials into your tumble dryer if they have been used to soak up flammable liquids
  • Remove the lint (fluff) from the filter after every load of clothes you dry
  • Never cover any vents
  • Ensure the vent pipe is free of kinks and is not being crushed in any way
  • Register your appliance by visiting

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