House fire shows ‘just emptying the lint screen is not enough for dryers’

Firefighters kept a blaze from destroying a house south of Bellingham Saturday afternoon, but the fire serves as a reminder of the importance of keeping a clothes dryer properly cleaned.

South Whatcom Fire Authority and Bellingham Fire Department crews responded to the 900 block of Bass Street at 1:05 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, according to the PulsePoint app, for the report of the house fire.

South Whatcom chief Rod Topel said though the family was home at the time of the fire, everyone escaped without injury.

“All in all, as fires go, this one was quickly identified and quickly extinguished by the first crews in,” Topel told The Bellingham Herald.

Topel said the fire started in the laundry room and spread with some “minor extension” to a nearby bathroom and kitchen. He estimated the damage at approximately $80,000.

Whatcom County fire inspector Will Anderson told The Herald that the fire is believed to have started in the clothes dryer.

“It’s a reminder to periodically pull your dryer out to to clean under it and check the wall connection to make sure its clear,” Anderson said, recommending the maintenance at least once a year. “Lint can build up and become a hazard.”

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Topel said it is also good to vacuum the motor that moves the drum to remove lint that falls around them and can collect over time.

“Just emptying the lint screen is not enough for dryers,” Topel said.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.