Brighton blaze caused by '˜spontaneous combustion' of tea towels

Firefighters have issued a warning after a fire at a launderette in Brighton was caused by freshly laundered tea towels.

Tuesday, 25th September 2018, 1:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th September 2018, 3:04 pm
Tea towels sparked a blaze at a laundrette

Brighton fire crews yesterday (September 24) at 3.47pm attended a fire at a launderette in Upper Gloucester Road, Brighton.

Two Brighton fire engines were sent to the business after reports of the launderette becoming heavily smoke-logged.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used one hose reel jet to tackle the accidental fire, caused by spontaneous combustion.

An East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “Did you know that tea towels can spontaneously combust, if folded and left in a pile, after being washed and dried in the tumble dryer?

“When hot and moist laundry is stacked, the oil residue can start to self-heat, resulting from an exothermic reaction within the material, due to continued oxidation.

“When fabrics reach auto-ignition temperature, materials can ignite without the application of an external heat source, commonly described as ‘spontaneous combustion’.”

The fire service gave some safety advice and said:

- Ensure wash temperatures and detergents are suitable for the optimum removal of oil based contaminants

- Allow laundry to complete the cooling cycle in the tumble dryer

- Shake out laundry to ventilate before folding or place garments on hangers

- Ensure stack or pile is well ventilated

- Test your smoke alarm regularly