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Spontaneous combustion of washing basket starts Market Drayton fire

By Sue Austin | Market Drayton | News | Published:

Fire chiefs have issued a warning after tumble-dried washing spontaneously burst into flames at a property in Market Drayton.

The baskey of washing. Photo: @SFRS_MDrayton

Staff and customers at the commercial property in Stafford Street dialled 999 and left the building after smoke detectors raised the alarm.

The blaze - so hot it melted the washing basket - was put out with a fire extinguisher, but firefighters had to ventilate the property and check that the fire had not spread.

It sparked Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service to warn that laundry fires can break out under certain conditions.

Firefighters from Market Drayton and Loggerheads and an operations officer from the service headquarters, James Bainbridge, went to the scene at 8pm on Thursday. They were told by the owner of the property that there had been a fire on the first floor involving a washing basket and laundry.

Once the area had been ventilated an inspection of the room where the fire had occurred was carried out using a thermal imaging camera, to ensure that there were no hotspots or any hidden fire spread.

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Following the investigation, firefighters said the cause was established to have been spontaneous combustion of a pile of laundry.

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"It had been dried in a tumble drier, and placed directly from the drier into a plastic laundry basket approximately two hours prior to the fire occurring," the crew from Market Drayton said.

"Spontaneous combustion can take place when heat rises through a pile of washing and reacts with oil residue on household items such as tea towels.

"We are pleased to report that there were no injuries at this incident, and no damage caused to the property, mainly due to the fact that there were working smoke alarms which operated, and raised the alarm in the early stages of the fire.

"We would like to praise the owners and staff of the property for their prompt actions and ensuring that the property was evacuated and all the customers were safe."

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has now issued a six-point plan on how to avoid a laundry fire:

  • Wash cotton laundry at the right temperature with an appropriate detergent to remove any oil based contaminants.
  • Run the cool-down cycle of the dryer if it has one.
  • Do not place laundry into large stacks or piles.
  • Do not leave damp items in a warm or hot dryer.
  • Allow enough time for all heat to dissipate from laundry before folding or bundling.
  • Never allow large loads to remain in dryers after the drying cycle ends.
Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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