After rash of dryer fires in Md., officials offer safety tips

WASHINGTON — A rash of dryer fires in Prince George’s County, Maryland has sparked a warning from fire department officials in Maryland and Virginia. Fire departments are offering tips to residents for keeping their dryers working properly and safely.

In Prince George’s County in just the last 11 days, firefighters have responded to 20 residential and commercial dryer fires, fire officials say.

Keeping your dryer lint-free is a crucial step when it comes to preventing a fire. Lt. Mike Buffum, with the Prince George’s County Fire Department, said his department typically sees an increase in dryer fires in the winter.

“A lot of times that’s contributed to people not cleaning out the lint or the vents for the outside (are) blocked and that heat is building up,” he said. That’s when lint and build up can ignite.

Meanwhile, in Fairfax County, Virginia, Battalion Chief Will Bailey says so far this year, fire officials have responded to six dryer fires.

“Numerous times we’ve found the cause of a dryer fire to be there was no lint filter in the dryer,” Bailey said.

You can prevent lint from building up by limiting how many items you place in the dryer at once. If your clothes are taking longer than normal to dry, clean the lint out of the vent pipe behind the dryer.

“One of the biggest safety tips we like to let folks know is turn the dryer off if you leave home or go to bed,” Bailey.

Buffum also suggested pulling your washer and dryer away from the wall and giving the area a good clean. Checking the exhaust vent outside and making sure the pipe connected to your dryer is cleaned out are also crucial steps to preventing a fire.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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