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Knoxville firefighters highlight dangers, safety prevention with clothes dryers

Knoxville firefighters believe an apartment fire that killed a dog and cat appears to have started around a clothes dryer. Firefighters say to avoid something l...
COVER PHOTO_Dryer fire Hill Ave. fire_0522_1558559938785.jpg-727168854.jpg

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knoxville renter is without a place to stay because of an early morning fire that took their home, at the same time killing their cat and dog.

More: One dog, cat killed in Knoxville apartment fire

The Knoxville Fire Department says around 3:30 Wednesday morning, crews were dispatched to an apartment on East Hill Avenue. Firefighters found heavy smoke coming from a first floor apartment. KFD says the fire appears to have started around a clothes dryer.

Paul Trumpore with KFD says a laundry room is a space that requires a smoke alarm. 

“In an area where you’re not expected to have a fire, you’re not expected to have smoke, you really want to have fast warning.”

Firefighters says keeping clothes or items on top of washers and dryers is a bad habit that people need to break.

“They’re not made to be storage spaces. It’s just bad practice to leave flammables on anything that could get hot,” said Trumpore.

Firefighters say it’s best to have your washer and dryer installed and maintained by a professional. It’s also important to make sure the plug and outlet are grounded, fitting properly.

“When you have a dryer, it doesn’t matter if it’s electric or gas, it’s a Class C fire. That means that it’s got electrical energy in the appliance. If you use water on that [during a fire] you could get electrocuted,” said Trumpore.

To avoid your dryer catching on fire, Trumpore says clean the filter before and after every load of laundry as well as the lint that may have gathered in the drum. 

“You have to change the lint out of your lint trap. If you don’t, it pushes that lint back around the sides of the drum, the tumbler, and it can get back to where the heat is produced in the dryer. Whether it’s gas fed or electric fed, it gets very hot back there,” Trumpore said.

Outside the home, Trumpore says to check the dryer vent at least one to two times a year because anything that stays in the hose is flammable. 

“You can see this is metal ducted. We like to see that because you’re not seeing anything that could catch that lint. But you notice, I’m not pulling out any dust. If it’s packed full, you need to get a long handle vacuum hose and get all that stuff out of there.”

Firefighters say house fires caused by dryers happen way too often and it doesn’t have to be that way.

“You want to be safe all the time and think a step ahead of what could go wrong,” added Trumpore.

Firefighters stress that you should never leave the dryer running if you’re leaving home or going to bed.

Between 2010 and 2014 fire departments all over the U.S. responded to nearly 16,000 house fires each year involving clothes dryers or washing machines according to the National Fire Protection Association.

NFPA also says those fires killed an average of 13 people a year, caused more than 400 injuries, and cost $236 million in property damage.