Hot towels the likely the culprit in assisted living fire

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC)- Most people could not imagine a stack of towels or linens starting a fire.

Bianca Sancic with the North Charleston Fire Department says it can in fact happen.

"Once you close the doors to the cabinet there is no circulation and air flow and the heat continues to build up and the towels begin to smolder and burn,"Sancic said.

Sancic says that's what happened Saturday at the White Oak Manor Assisted Living Center.

She says it's likely a combination of the fabric softener chemicals and the high levels of heat from the commercial dryer trapped in the towels caused that them to spontaneously combust and burn.

"Commercial dryers dry cotton at such high temps in this case the towels were folded and stored away in the cabinet and were not able to dissipate," Sancic said.

When it comes to businesses using commercial grade dryers she says there are some factors to take in consideration.

"In terms of large scale heating make sure you go through the entire cycle with the cool down cycle and shake things out while you are folding,"Sancic said.

Although residential dryers don't get as hot as a commercial dryers Sansic says its still important when using any electrical appliance to follow the manufacturers instructions.

Sancic says it's pretty rare for linens to spontaneously combust.

The North Charleston Fire department worked a fire that started in a similar way several years ago at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.