London Fire Brigade

Drying clothes causes laundrette fire

29 July 2014

A fire that caused extensive damage to a laundrette in Bromley is believed to have been caused by tightly packed laundered clothes.

Fire investigators believe the fire at the shop on Bromley Road, was the result of self-heating within clothing that had been laundered, dried and folded into a pile before the shop closed yesterday evening.

These types of fires often involve textiles that become contaminated with oil, most commonly linseed, massage and cooking oil on tea towels, tablecloths and chef whites.

Gary Pratt from the Brigade’s fire investigation unit said: “Sometimes when materials are cleaned, put in tumble dryers and then folded and stacked, the heat from the tumble drying cannot escape. This can result in a high enough temperature allowing it to build up to a point where it smoulders and eventually ignites.

“If you are washing and then drying on a hot cycle, always use the cooling cycle on the tumble dryer so it cools down and allow the heat to dissipate properly, before stacking laundered items together.”

Eight people left a first floor flat and flats in adjacent properties before the arrival of the Brigade. Fortunately there were no injuries reported.

The Brigade attends about 20 fires a year, believed to have been started by self-heating materials.

Four fire engines and 21 firefighters and officers from Bromley, Beckenham and Orpington fire stations attended the incident.

The Brigade was called at 0427 and the fire was brought under control at 0524.