Clothes dryer cause of fire fatalities

FLINT TWP. — An investigation has determined the cause of an October 21 house fire on Pound Drive in which a man and his dog died.

Pending an autopsy report, the cause of death has not been determined for resident, Robert Huddy, 48, according to Assistant Fire Chief Michael Burkley.

Township firefighters received a call about a structure fire about 8:09 a.m. that Wednesday, he said. While en route, the 911-dispatch center reported the possibility of a person trapped inside the home.

On arrival, fire fighters found an active house fire with smoke showing. Police reported that there was a man inside the burning home.

Firefighters entered the home with thermal imagers searching for residents. The fire was located in the bathroom area of the home.

Fire fighters started suppression of the fire, set up a ventilation fan and were conducting a second search of the home when they found Huddy.

The home sustained heavy smoke damage especially to the bathroom area.

Swartz Creek Fire department assisted along with EMS and Flint Township police.

A subsequent investigation by the Flint Township fire investigator and Michigan State Police concluded that the fire was caused by the clothes dryer vent being plugged with lint and also damaged by debris behind the dryer causing it to overheat and catch fire.

Burkley stressed the importance of homeowners regularly cleaning around the clothes dryer to maintain safe operation.

More information about dryer safety and maintenance is posted on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) web site at safety-information/for-consumers/causes/dryers-and-washing-machines or on the township’s fire department Facebook page at

Dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 22 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2006-2010, according to NFPA statistics.

In 2010 alone, an estimated 16,800 reported home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines resulted in 51 civilian deaths, 380 civilian injuries and $236 million in direct property damage.

Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 4%.

The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean (32%), followed by unclassified mechanical failure or malfunction (22%). Eight percent were caused by some type of electrical failure or malfunction.

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