Fire safety officers are warning residents to properly maintain their tumble dryers after a recent increase in the number of dryer fires caused by electrical faults.
More than 40 fires started in Lancashire last year as a result of tumble dryers, although not all of these were as a result of electrical faults, say fire safety officers.
And tumble dryer fires as a whole accounted for more than 50% of blazes in private garages and garden sheds across the county last year, warned Lancashire Fire and Rescue.
Steve Flitcroft, Community Safety Adviser said: "Although one of the main causes has historically been the build-up of fluff in the filters, there has been a recent increase in the number of fires caused by electrical faults.
"Some of these electrical faults have been attributed to manufacturing defects. Tripping circuit breakers or burning smells could signal a serious issue. Switch off the appliance and call an engineer."
One woman, who lives in Poulton had a lucky escape after her tumble dryer went up in flames just before Christmas.
Christine Thistlethwaite, 50, was horrified to discover the speed with which the fire spread around her garage.
The gym receptionist said: "We were all getting ready for Christmas. We took out a towel and some tea towels and put them into the tumble dryer.
"We heard a banging sound in the garage and a fuse went. We tried to flick it back on but it wouldn't come back on.
"We thought the banging sound had come from outside. When we went out to look at the garage there some flames coming out of the door.
"There was black smoke billowing out everywhere. It all happened really quickly within minutes, we were really shocked."
The family closed the door to the garage and moved cars that were parked on their driveway away from the fire.
Christine added: "We were quite frightened, it was so out of control. We didn't want to affect the neighbours.
"The fire brigade were really good and came quickly.
"Having seen the speed that a fire can spread from a tumble dryer I would never leave one on and leave the house.
"It's shocking because we followed all the safety advice, but we still suffered a fire."
The Fire Service responded within minutes and managed to bring the blaze under control using a breathing apparatus and a hose reel.
Watch Manager Warren Topp said: "Every fire scenario has the potential to cause significant property damage and severe harm to occupants if not dealt with appropriately.
"Luckily In this case the occupant decided to close the door on the fire and call the fire service out immediately. This split second decision can sometimes be the difference between life and death and should never be taken lightly.
"Just a few breaths of toxic smoke from and electrical fire can easily render a person unconscious. This is why we always issue the advice to get out, stay out and call the fire service out."
Nobody was injured during the incident although the garage suffered serious damage following the blaze.
-Clean out lint and fluff from the filter and around the door after every use.
- Watch out for scorching or burn marks, and check for loose or worn wires.
- Have your dryer serviced annually by a qualified engineer.
- Never overload – take large or bulky items such as duvets to the dry-cleaners.
- Always allow each drying programme, including the cool down cycle to complete fully.
- Don't stop the dryer before the end of the cycle unless all items are quickly removed and the door is left open to dissipate heat.
- Leave clothes contaminated with combustible substances such as solvents, grease, oils or fats out of tumble dryers.
- Don't leave dryers, dishwashers and washing machines on overnight. If possible, unplug or switch off appliances at the socket overnight and when going out to avoid the risk of an electrical fault causing a fire.
- Tripping circuit breakers or burning smells could signal a serious issue. Switch off the appliance and call an engineer.
Check whether your dryer has a green dot sticker on the inside of the door towards the top, either on the door itself or the door rim. If there’s no green dot in these two areas, check the back panel of the machine in the middle and towards the top. If your dryer has a green dot sticker positioned in these areas, the manufacturer tells us that your machine is not part of the safety alert.
If you don’t find the green dot, you’ll need to find out whether your dryer is affected by visiting either the Hotpoint or Indesit websites (safety.hotpoint.eu and safety.indesit.eu) or by calling 0800 151 0905.
You can check Creda dryers on the Hotpoint site. You’ll need to have both the model and serial numbers handy. You will find the serial number inside the door-rim of your dryer on the upper right hand side. The serial number is found beneath the barcode and it’s made up of the nine numbers following, but not including, ‘S/N’