Dorm evacuations are never the best of moments, especially when they’re at three in the morning in January.
For the students of Miller Hall, however, that moment became real when a fire was spotted in the dorm’s basement laundry room on Jan. 26. Michael Massoth, a resident of the hall, was using the laundry room when he noticed smoke and flames coming out of the dryer he had previously put his clothes into.
Massoth quickly alerted the security guard in Miller of the situation, while Adam Martin, another resident of the hall, put out the fire with the nearby extinguisher. Shortly after, the hall was evacuated, and the fire department arrived.
“One guy didn’t have a shirt on. Another was only in his boxers,” Massoth said when discussing the brief evacuation. “I had some shorts, a shirt and flip-flips. I thought, if they’re going to suffer, I might as well too.”
Massoth lost upwards of $200 in personal items to the fire, according to the U of L fire incident report. Damages to the dryer are still unknown.
While rumors arose that the fire occurred due to a bizarre incident with matches in a pair of pants’ pocket while in the dryer, Massoth said the firemen on the scene explained the filtration system in the back of the dryer was to blame, as it had clogged up. Dwain Archer, U of L’s fire marshal, stated the cause of the fire appeared to be a lack of a dryer lint catcher during the machine’s usage.
“It was an accumulation of dust and lint and dryer sheets in the dryer pipes that caused it. We’ll be keeping a close eye on it and getting in touch with housing and make sure they clean them out on a more regular basis.”
Archer further stated that, while there are inspections for the halls that occur at least twice a year, the cause for this fire was something that would take much more time to cure.
“When students take out those dryer screens, it allows all the lint and fabric softener sheets to travel into the piping in the dryers. Then, they start to clog up the pipes and collect heat.”
Once stuck in the pipes, inspections would involve opening up the systems and looking at the hose so that the cleaning process would cover that as well.
Archer implored students to remember to place the dryer screens back into place before use. “People need to know that they can’t remove those screens and think those sheets won’t clog the hose up.” He also applauded the students involved for their quick thinking and alerting officials as soon as they did.