House fires linked to clothes dryers

OKEECHOBEE — Two structure fires were reported this week due to clothes dryers.

According to an Okeechobee Fire Department report, at 6:11 p.m. on April 24, a structure fire was reported in the 1000 block of Northwest Sixth Street.

Units were reportedly dispatched to a call in regards to smoke coming from a clothes dryer.

Upon arrival firefighters saw white smoke dome from the front doorway and back of the house. The home owner reportedly informed them that the fire was inside the dryer and that no one was in the home.

An assessment of the scene indicated the fire spread to the contents of the laundry room and an extinguisher was utilized in an attempt to reduce the fire, per the report.

The report continued that after an engine arrived to the fire scene, Captain Lalo Rodriguez placed the pump in gear, Firefighter Steve Weeks moved to the pump operations and informed Capt. Rodriguez of the situation. A 1 3/4” attack line was pulled and utilized to extinguish the fire with an approximate total of 200 gallons of water being used.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue (OCFR) reportedly arrived on scene and assisted Capt. Rodriguez and Firefighter Jeremy Crews with the fire extension search. The fire was reported to be contained solely in the laundry room as both city and county fire crews used thermal image cameras to search for any additional areas of fire spread with none found. Units then set up a positive pressure ventilation fan to expedite the removal of smoke from the home.

Florida Power & Light (FPL) was contacted and responded to the scene to disconnect the power to the home as the breaker panel was noted as being damaged. OCFR was then released from the scene and OFD Chief Herb Smith conducted his investigation. The investigation concluded the fire originated from inside the dryer drum where the fabrics began to overheat and combust inside the dryer and radiated heat through the metal wall and bottom of the dryer which caused miscellaneous combustibles to burn.

The fire was determined to be unintentional and accidental.

The report finished that before clearing the scene at 9:27 p.m., fire crews removed the excess water and debris from the home out onto the patio area. The home was then secured and turned over to the homeowners.

The total estimated property and contents financial loss of $20,000 was assessed. One engine, brush truck and Chief Smith of OFD responded to the incident scene.
Second structure report

On April 25, at 2:47 p.m., OCFR personnel responded to the 8400 block of U.S. 441 Southeast in regards to a structure fire.

The report stated that while units were initially responding Deputy Chief Earl Wooten notified the Florida State Fire Marshal’s office of the incident.

When units arrived on scene they noticed smoke come from the front door area. After entry was made firefighters used a dry chemical extinguisher to reduce the fire. Water was then applied extinguish the fire to the inside of the door, where a clothes dryer and air compressor were located. A positive pressure ventilation fan was then set up in the back door area to clear out the smoke from the fire.

The homeowners who were gone during the fire stated they left to pick up one of their children and left the dryer on while they were gone.

It was noted in an incident report by Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) Deputy Joseph Hall — who responded to the scene after fire crews — the owners of the home left at approximately 2 p.m., less than an hour before the fire began.

The report finished stating that firefighters then used a thermal image camera to ensure the temperature was below 100 degree Fahrenheit in all parts of the home before cleaning and taping off the front and back doors with incident scene tape. The home was then turned back over to its owners.

The total estimated property and contents financial loss of $11,000 was assessed. The State Fire Marshal determined the incident to be accidental due to the dryer causing the fire. Two engines, one tanker, one rescue, Deputy Chief Wooten and Captain Justin Hazellief of OCFR responded to the incident scene.

Get the facts

The United States Fire Administration has put together a few facts about home clothes dryer fires in a safety outreach effort. The “Clothes dryer don’ts” include: 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 such as 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; and don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.

Emergency 911

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