Washing Machines: Surprising Culprit in Accidental Fires

Washing Machine
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MASON CITY, IA – House and apartment fires caused by clothes dryers are incidents many of us have heard of, especially in those cold winter months. But there’s another at-home appliance that can be just as dangerous when it comes to accidental fires.

Ron Drewelow is in the business of handling people’s dirty laundry – literally.

After 11 years in business there’s one thing he preaches to his customers.

Coin Laundry Center Owner, Ron Drewelow said, “We always tell people, fluffy not stuffy.”

Following that rule of thumb is important for a reason.

According to the latest statistics from FEMA, 3,000 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings are called in each year.

Mason City Fire Department 3rd Battalion Captain, Jack Odegaard said, “Usually 2 things happen, lint is started on the fire in the lint trap or the belt slips off and is burning.”

But there’s also another unexpected culprit: your washing machine.

Captain Odegaard said, “They overload them and the electric motor there just can’t move the amount of clothing and water.”

Instead of filling the machine to the max, there’s a much safer option.

Captain Odegaard said,”Like a comforter or an extra big blanket, we usually go to a commercial laundromat where they have extra big stuff for that.”

Ron has had a few close calls with those types of incidents himself.

He said, “Well one time, someone overloaded a top loader and that’s normal, that’s once or twice a year, the belts smoke and you smell the burnt rubber.”

That’s why he’s extra vigilant with maintenance.

Drewelow said, “You gotta be on top of that all the time, keeping everything neat and clean your, washers dryers all your units, your piping. It’s a big job and lot of work a lot of the time, but it’s gotta be done.”

Because even if the washing machine isn’t the most common fire starter, the risk of overloading far outweigh the benefits.

Captain Odegaard said,”That’s the big thing, it’s totally preventable.Don’t overload your washer and you should not have any issues.”

It’s also recommended to avoid putting clothes in the washer that are already wet. That will just add more weight to the machine, and create more friction.

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