Fire crews warn people to clean dryer vents regularly

Two dryer fires in past week caused by lint buildup

Fire crews warn people to clean dryer vents regularly

COLUMBIA, Mo. - According to the Columbia Fire Department, there have been six dryer fires so far this year; two in the last week.

"The leading cause of dryer lint fires is failure to clean," said Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer with the Columbia Fire Department.

Most people know to clean out the filter before or after every load, but it's often the unseen vent that's the culprit.

Appliance experts say cleaning the vent is easy.

"Just take it off, and take it outside and hose it out or just vacuum it out," said Gary Ennis with Ennis Appliance Center in Columbia.

Fraizer said lint catches fire easily and will burn quickly.

"Lint is very combustible and once it heats up to a certain point, if it does catch fire or it does begin to spark, that air is going to magnify the problem," he said. "It's going to provide oxygen."

But cleaning the vent is only part of preventing a fire. Making sure you're using the right type of vent is key.

Ennis said the aluminum foil vents and the white vinyl vents are the ones that cause problems. Lint becomes trapped more easily in these types of vents and they are more prone to start fires.

Fraizer said almost all dryers have a sticker on the back that explains what type of vent tubing is needed.

For dryer vents that are not placed on an outside wall, or are on the second story of a building, it's even more critical to check the vent because the vents are longer. Fraizer said that creates more opportunity for lent to get trapped and potentially catch fire.

According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, clothes-dryer fires account for 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries annually.

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