Oil on tea towels started hotel tumble dryer blaze

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FIREFIGHTERS are urging people to take extra precautions when using tumble dryers following a huge hotel blaze.

Travel Lodge, in Chichester city centre, suffered extensive damage in a fire, which broke out on Monday morning.

An investigation found it began in a utility area at the back of the restaurant and spread up into the hotel.

Rapeseed oil residue on tea towels and linen is likely to have caused them to self-ignite inside the restaurant’s tumble dryer.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s fire investigation officer Mark Hayter said: ‘The circumstances of this fire are unusual, but certainly not unheard of.

‘We’ve attended fires started in this way before. It happens when vegetable and animal-fat based oils are not fully washed out of laundry. If materials with oil residue are heated and then left in a tumble dryer, or are folded into piles or stacks before they are cool, there is a risk of self-combustion.

‘It is really important to wash materials that have absorbed oil at a high temperature and to use the right detergent.

‘You should make sure the dryer is left to complete its full cycle, which usually includes a cool-down phase towards the end. We’d also strongly advise people not to pile or stack laundry while it is still hot.’