Warnings after tumble dryers cause spate of fires in South

Tumble dryer fires in the South have destroyed or extensively damaged two houses, as well as an Invercargill laundrette and a Te Anau hotel laundry.

''It's time to let the people know that dryers are very, very unpredictable if they are not maintained and inspected and looked after,'' Fire and Emergency New Zealand fire safety manager Murray Milne-Maresca warned yesterday.

''It's very underestimated,'' he said of the fire risk.

Dryers should not be left running when people left their house, or went to sleep, he warned.

''It starts off with installation. With any dryer that you get, it should be done professionally,'' he said.

Tumble dryers were clearly beneficial, but needed to be checked and filters cleaned regularly.

There were several potential sources of fire with tumble dryers, and one of the recent fires had resulted from spontaneous combustion after work clothing on which flammable liquids had been spilled had ignited inside a dryer.

Clothing that had oil or other flammable liquids spilled on them should be washed and dried on an outside clothes line, rather than being put through the dryer, he warned.

A house at Conyers St, Invercargill, was last month extensively damaged by a fire believed to have been caused by a tumble dryer.

The South City Launderette in Martin St, Invercargill, was hit by fire early this month.

A laundry room at the Distinction Luxmore Hotel in Te Anau had been badly damaged by a dryer fire -''we've got it on video'', Mr Milne-Maresca added.

A house at Riverton was destroyed by a dryer-related fire. Lpg had been present, and the house had been ''blown off its foundations'' by an explosion, he said.

In a social media post, Fenz Otago and Southland warned of the four fires in the past month, and the extensive resulting damage, adding ''Yikes!''

The message warned people to ''check your dryer before you use it this winter''.

Lint should be removed from the dryer after each use, and it should be ensured there was ''proper ventilation and airspace around the dryer''.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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